Photo Credit: KIN CHEUNG | AP

Steep Hills, Fast Cheese: Nanaimo Teen Conquers the Cheese Rolling Challenge!

Meet champion cheese-roller Delaney Irving

Another Vancouver Island elite athlete hits the world stage

Comox-born goaltender Adin Hill will bring the Stanley Cup home after the Las Vegas Golden Knights’ thrashed the Florida Panthers Tuesday night.

Hill isn’t the only world class Vancouver Island athlete in the news these days.

19-year-old Delaney Irving of Nanaimo has been crowned a 2023 champion cheese roller.

Irving was on a May backpacking trip in England this spring. On a whim, she decided to enter the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling & Wake in Gloucester.

This annual event draws hundreds of competitors from around the world. They chase a 3-kg wheel of double Gloucester cheese travelling up to 130 km/h down a steep hill.

The rules are simple. First across the line wins – and goes home with the cheese.

The contest is dangerous. People usually tumble at some point on the steep 180-metre-long descent. Rabbit holes on the hill are like landmines. Ankles have been turned, bones broken, and calf muscles torn in this cheesy challenge.

As Irving raced down the hill, she realized she was in the lead. Then she tripped, stumbled and rag-dolled across the finish line. In the process, she knocked herself out cold.

When she came to, she had the cheese in her lap, fans were cheering, and first aid attendants were congratulating her.

Irving said her strategy to avoid breaking a leg was to tuck up into a ball and roll as soon as she felt herself falling.

Cheese-rolling races have been held at Cooper’s Hill, about 160 kilometres west of London, since at least 1826. But, the sport of cheese-rolling is believed to be much older. 

“I’m definitely sore. I’ve got a lot of bruises, but overall, I’m okay,” Irving told CBCNews in a post-race interview.

And she also has a big tasty wheel of double Gloucester to share with friends.



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