Four-legged Athlete Steals the Spotlight

We recently features a post about the new McFarlane Team Canada figures released in honour of the Olympics, but it seems that there’s one more fierce competitor who might deserve a figure of their own…

Yahoo News reports:

WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP)—A local lynx padded across the Winter Olympic downhill course Wednesday while a training session was halted because of fog.

“Get out of the way,” Canadian downhiller Manuel Osborne-Paradis said. “Oh wow—you do not want to get close to that.”

Fortunately for the orange-and-black lynx and the skiers, the session was already on hold due to low visibility and none of the Olympic athletes encountered the four-legged feline.

Still, officials broadcast a warning over the race radio to make sure no skiers were on the course and eventually the lynx hopped over the barriers lining the track and went back into the forest.

“That was all planned. It’s to show people Canadian nature,” joked Mike Kertesz, the International Ski Federation official in charge of the finish area.

Weighing up to 14 kilograms (30 pounds) and reaching 65 centimeters (26 inches) in height, lynx roam the forests of the northern United States and Canada.

They are not the only scary wildlife in Whistler, where you can also spot black and brown bear, volunteers at the course said.

Olympic volunteer Tony Thorburn has lived near Whistler for 16 years and says such lynx sightings are unusual, but becoming more common.

“I’ve known people who worked in the bush all their lives and never seen one,” the 65-year-old Thorburn said. “But in the last few years they’ve shown up here more often.”

It’s not the first time wildlife has come into contact with ski racing. A few years ago at the annual World Cup downhill in Val Gardena, Italy, a deer sauntered on the course and ran next to local favorite Kristian Ghedina for the final part of his run. Ghedina then made the deer his personal logo for the remainder of his career.

Thorburn said coyotes also are common around Whistler, hunting in packs and targeting pets.

“A lot of people can’t leave their cats out,” he said. They make a nice little meal for a coyote.”