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Local business helps Nigerian bobsledders gear up for Olympics

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

Graphic installation technician James Dalke with Strand Media cuts out screw holes on the bobsled wrap to be used by Nigeria's first ever bobsled team. The Nigerian bobsled team has asked that the completed bobsled be kept under wraps until Feb. 5 after they have had the chance to formally unveil it. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)

Graphic installation technician James Dalke with Strand Media cuts out screw holes on the bobsled wrap to be used by Nigeria's first ever bobsled team. The Nigerian bobsled team has asked that the completed bobsled be kept under wraps until Feb. 5 after they have had the chance to formally unveil it. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)

Lacombe will be part of history in the making at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

 

When the first ever bobsled team from Nigeria – an all-women trio including driver Seun Adigun, brakemen Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga – makes its way down the track, so too will a piece of the city in the form of a bobsled wrap printed and installed by local business Strand Media.

“It’s our little piece of doing what we can for the Olympics,” said Strand Media President Bruce Clarke. “It’s pretty cool – it’s as close as I’m ever going to get to the Olympics.”

While wrapping a bobsled isn’t something that happens every day, Strand Media is no stranger in helping to add the finishing touches to sleds. Three years ago they did a partial wrap for Team Canada and have supplied decals for Canadian sleds ever since.

A year before that, the business wrapped a sled for the Australian team after a friend of his, Carter Gibson, met driver Heath Spence at Canadian Olympic Park (COP) during a summer bobsleigh ride. They wrapped the same one again for the team, and when the driver – who is now coaching for the Chinese team – sold his sled to the Nigerian team, he recommended Strand Media put the graphics on.

The first concept, crafted by sponsor Under Armour, featured a vivid mosaic of colours reminiscent of the lively culture of the African nation, however the team rejected it – noting it was more suited to an art gallery than a bobsled track. On Friday, the final design from Under Armour – a sleek black, green and white wrap which won’t be formally unveiled until Feb. 5 – was printed. On Sunday night, the sled was wrapped in less than three hours, and was headed to COP for 9 a.m. Monday morning.

The process involved cleaning the sled with a special solution, and then priming areas that would see more stress to help the wrap, essentially three vinyl stickers, adhere better. The material was then heated and smoothed onto the surface of the sled, with holes for screws cut out.

“Usually it’s just gratifying seeing the vehicles we decal and wrap drive around town,” he said. “This is an extraordinary experience to see something that’s going to go down the Olympic bobsled track on live T.V.”

This particular experience is made that much more exciting given the story behind the Nigerian team and their “Cool Runnings”-esque journey to Pyeongchang.

Originally, the team used a wooden sled handcrafted by Adigun herself called “The Maeflower,” named for her sister who died in a car accident in 2009, to train in Houston. Their new sled will appropriately be dubbed the “Maeflower 2.”

Clarke, who’s taken an added interest in the sport as a result of working on the bobsleds, says Adigun and her team are quite an interesting set of girls.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “What they do...I could never go down an icy track in one of those things at over 80 miles per hour.”

The 2018 Olympic Winter Games will be held Feb. 9-Feb. 25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Bobsled events aren’t expected to happen until the latter portion of the games.

-abarrett@postmedia.com 



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