Rolling wheel of cheese blamed for infant’s injuries

Canada has enough musical embarrassments to apologize for.

Now my home and native land is apologizing for cheese wheels.

cheese-rollingJason Proctor of CBC News reports an out-of-control five-kilogram wheel of aged farmhouse cheddar is being blamed for breaking an infant’s leg in a B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit arising from a Whistler cheese-rolling competition.

In a notice of civil claim filed by her guardian, Juli Nonaka claims she was injured on Blackcomb Mountain in August during the ninth annual running of the Great Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival.

“As the plaintiff was watching the event from behind a safety net on the premises, a cheese wheel came rolling down the hill and stretched the safety net colliding with the plaintiff, causing her to be knocked to the ground and sustain injury, loss and damage,” the claim reads.

Nonaka is suing the Dairy Farmers of Canada, Smak Media and Promotions and Vail Resorts, the U.S. Company which owns Whistler Blackcomb.

According to cheese-rolling historians, humans may have been chasing wheels of cheese down steep slopes since pagan times. Written accounts of cheese-rolling date back nearly 200 years.

The most famous event is held at Cooper’s Hill, near Gloucester in England, where competitors chase a wheel of Double Gloucester down an incline as sharp as a 40-year-old block of cheddar.

An orange-hued cheese with a natural rind, Double Gloucester gets very hard as it ages, which is thought to be why it became associated with cheese rolling. Cheese speeds can reach more than 100 kilometres an hour.

Not surprisingly, the history of cheese rolling is replete with tales of injury.

According to, 22 people were injured at Cooper’s Hill during the “cheese chase chaos” of 1990, including a 59-year-old woman knocked unconscious.

And in 1997, more than 33 people were wounded when things went awry, leading to a delay — but not the cancellation — of the women’s event.