Is the novelty wearing off?

Man, do those guys and girls go fast.

I'd spent some time at the Whistler Sliding Centre (WSC) prior to the FIBT World Cup event held at the track Nov. 25 to 27, but to get a first taste of international competition there was a real treat.

Jon Montgomery had another golden moment for Canada in Whistler, Mellisa Hollingsworth this time left town with a smile on her face and fans of all competing nations were privileged to watch the world's elite sliders tame the fastest track on the planet.

It's just too bad that there weren't more people there to join them.

A release from the WSC wrapping the event stated that there were 5,000 spectators at the venue over the three days of competition.

While those numbers indicate that the World Cup stop didn't go unnoticed, it certainly didn't attract the same kind of attention it's received in the past.

Prior to the event, officials at the track said they were hoping to reach attendance figures similar to the pre-Olympic World Cup races held in Whistler, which saw sold-out crowds of 3,000 per day.

When the FIL Luge World Cup also arrived at the WSC in 2009, all the tickets were snapped up for that event as well.

That was back at a time when sliding sports were perhaps still a bit foreign to the general public here in Whistler, when Montgomery and Kaillie Humphries weren't household names.

Is it possible that the novelty of having one of the world's just 14 tracks recognized for FIBT competition is starting to wear off for Whistlerites?

It has to be mentioned that athletes competing over the weekend had nothing but great things to say about the venue, and credit is certainly due to the staff and track crew at the WSC for hosting an excellent event.

Meanwhile, the weather wasn't ideal for drawing crowds on the first two days of competition, with heavy snowfall coming down on what also happened to be the first two official opening days for Whistler Blackcomb.

And I'm sure there were many who would have rather skipped out on a Friday afternoon of work to come see Montgomery keep his win streak at the WSC intact.

It's also important to remember that the Olympic venue, which gave us some of the greatest Canadian moments of the Games, was the first of all - in Vancouver or Whistler - to stage a World Cup event since, and it came in the same calendar year.

In that regard, it's understandable that some might have taken the "been there, done that" approach to the weekend of sliding.

Still, the folks that were on hand for any of the action were definitely enthusiastic. That was most evident with the roar of appreciation Montgomery received from the crowd during his medal ceremony, and the men's skeleton champ seemed touched by the support from locals.

"This is going to be one of the premier stops on the World Cup circuit for years to come," he said when meeting the media after his victory. "It's an exciting sport to watch and I think people here in Whistler realize that, and they come out in droves to give the Canadian troops and everybody else from the world a good round of support, so this is going to be awesome coming back here year after year."

Let's hope we can live up to that prediction down the road, sports fans.

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