The Rossland Winter Carnival, which first began in 1898, happens this weekend and will include the ever popular Sonny Samuelson Bobsled Race. But new rules have been applied to the event because of an incident last year and a current lawsuit.

One of our favourite festivals in the Kootenays is the Rossland Winter Carnival, which is celebrating its 121st year this weekend. And our favourite event at the event is the Sonny Samuelson Bobsled Race starting at 9:30 am on Saturday January 27th. A few of our staff members have been part of this race and we can tell you from experience that it’s absolutely fun and totally insane!

Participants careen down Spokane Street in homemade bobsleds, that range from canoes on skis to wooden boxes, and reach speeds surpassing 80 kilometres an hour! However, some of the rules have changed this year due to the fact one team crashed last January and injured four people. The crash happened on the corner of Third Avenue and Spokane Street when a sled slid out of control, broke through a wooden barrier and struck a woman who was watching the event. Unfortunately the spectator was standing in a restricted area and she wasn’t spotted until it was too late. One of the bobsledders broke a femur during the incident and the spectator had a dislocated kneecap. The worst part about it all, however, is the spectator, Nicole Valliere of Fruitvale, is suing the Rossland Winter Carnival Society, the City of Rossland, the unknown owner/operator of the bobsled, Selkirk Security Services Ltd. and an unnamed security guard for damages in a civil suit. Could this put the entire event’s future at stake?

In the video above, KMC managing editor Vince Hempsall is seen bailing but not failing during the Rossland Bobsled Race in 2015.

To make things safer this year, organizers increased the entry fee for bobsled teams to $140 to help pay for extra measures such as more snow, fencing, hay bales and security. Also, bobsled designs had to change for the mandatory inspections: brakes must be able to lift the machine and steering will come under close scrutiny.

Other events at this weekend’s Rossland Winter Carnival include the parade down Columbia avenue tonight at 6pm  followed by the Blizzard Music Festival at the legion at 9pm. Saturday will include the bobsled race, Rail Jam, fat bike demo, snow volleyball tournament and more and on Sunday is the Luge Race as well as the John Heintz Relay race at Red Mountain. For full details about the activities of the event and when they’re happening, log on to the Rossland Winter Carnival website.