Downhill Cheddar Chasing: Cheese Rolling Festival Returns, Aug 15

Photo sourced from Canadiancheeserolling.ca

Photo sourced from Canadiancheeserolling.ca

Ready for something extremely cheesy?

The Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival returns to Whistler, this Saturday, Aug. 15. The premise is pretty straightforward. An 11-pound wheel of Canadian cheese is rolled down a hill on Blackcomb Mountain. Fearless competitors – in protective helmets and sometimes ridiculous costumes – chase after it, slipping, tripping and flipping their way down the slope in an effort to cross the finish line first.

And the prize for all this cheesy mayhem: A giant wheel of of cheese, of course, not to mention a pair of season ski passes to Whistler Blackcomb. 

Photo sourced from Canadiancheeserolling.ca

Photo sourced from Canadiancheeserolling.ca

The sport of cheese rolling traces its roots to Gloucestershire, England, where aficionados have been chasing cheese wheels down Cooper’s Hill for centuries. The Whistler competition got its start in 2008 and has been getting bigger ever since. This year, there will be seven men’s heats and four women’s heats, with the winners facing off in the big final. Anyone can enter by signing up on race day at Base 2 of Blackcomb Mountain. Helmets are provided, but you’re encouraged to bring your own protective gear.

Photo sourced from Canadiancheeserolling.ca

Photo sourced from Canadiancheeserolling.ca

Not interested in risking life and limb chasing down a piece of cheese? Plenty of other events cater to armchair cheese athletes.  Try your luck at cheese bowling, where you roll your cheese wheel through a challenging obstacle course, or cheesy Twister, where the coloured circles are replaced by cheese wheels. There’s a cheese-themed costume contest, plus lots of kids activities, including a safer take on the cheese race with kids sprinting up the hill.

Serious cheese heads can also sample a smorgasbord of cheeses and learn anything and everything about all kinds of fromage. Experts from the Dairy Farmers of Canada, which sponsors the event, will be on hand to answer such pressing questions as why does Swiss cheese have holes and why is aged Cheddar so crumbly?

Photo sourced from Canadiancheeserolling.ca

Photo sourced from Canadiancheeserolling.ca

When you’ve had enough cheese, you can also check out Whistler’s annual Crankworx Festival, a 10-day mountain bike competition where athletes from around the world face off. Cheese rolling is just one of many sidelights at the festival, including photo exhibitions and plenty of parties.

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