One afternoon, a few of us trekked over to the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, which served as the 2002 Olympic venue for ski jumping, nordic combined, bobsled, skeleton and luge events. Actually, medals are given in the bobsleigh event to people who ride a bobsled. How’s that for some fairly useless trivia learned on this family vacation? Store it away. Use it wisely at the appropriate time, but do so without sounding like a know-it-all Cliff Clavin .
So, the bobsleigh track (or would it be a bobsled track?!) is still there and used by the US Olympic team as their training ground. Year round, mere mortals can take a ride on the track. In the winter, you can ride one of the actual bobsleds used in the 2002 Olympics. Other times of the year, you can ride a summerized bobsled with tires instead of steel runners.
The Comet bobsled ride at the Utah Olympic park is billed as the "most intense minute of your life. " The sign-your-life-away form included warnings designed to discourage anyone who has ever had back/neck, kidney or heart problems, undergone recent surgeries, have high blood pressure or is pregnant. In big bold print it said the ride is "not for the faint of heart ." After reading this, I quietly asked how many fatalities they had had in 2009. The burly mountain man laughed and said they had only crashed one bobsled, about ten years ago, and that everyone walked away, albeit very bruised.
mimi was glad to hang out with Saxon and form the cheering section.
saxon picking a helmet. sorry kid. you gotta be 14 to ride.
"dad, this is really heavy on my head"
they won’t let you drive, since you have to be pro to navigate the 15 turns at speeds close to 70 mph. that’s mike (above) looking back excitedly. The faster you’re pushed at the start, the faster you zip down the track. Big & strong people make great pushers and brakemen. I was glad someone as strong as Heisman winner and NFL running back Herschel Walker (who finished 7th in the 1992 two man event) wasn’t pushing out sled.
From left to right: von, me (with the wild eyes), teresa (eyes fixed on the helmet in front of her) and the driver guy. The minute I plopped down into the long metal hot dog, panic descended upon my heart and mind for the second time in two days. As a lifelong claustrophobe, the simultaneous reactions of increased stomach acids, the tightening of my chest, nd increased hyperawareness of everything going on around me were unpleasantly familiar.
But I had no time to dwell upon these thoughts because off we went. Realizing we did not have seat belts because we didn’t need them. With 5G’s (that’s 5 times the normal pull of gravity) in the turns I would be pinned to the bottom of the sled if I didn’t follow the instructions. Push against the inside of the sled with my arms as hard as I could and hold your head and neck up with a stiff rigidity to avoid being a life-sized bobble head doll.
Away we went. Faster and faster with each vertical drop. At the turns, it felt like my body had become metallized and the world was a giant magnet folding me in half. The first 30 seconds were exhiliarating. Truly the most intense 30 seconds of my life seemed like a split second.
Unfortunately, the turns started coming so fast that my delicate inner ear thought we were on a dinghy in ten foot seas and sounded the motion sickness alarm. At this point, I could only think of crying for mama. The last 30 seconds [thank goodness the entire ride was less than a minute] seemed like an eternity.
I don’t look very green, so maybe we took this one before the ride!
here’s Saxon sitting on a luge. does her size give you an idea of the scale of tiny saucer people ride down the mountain at close to 100 mph?
teresa tries it on for size.
mimi (above) and teresa (below) in one of the 2002 US olympic team sleds
mimi and saxon wondering why daddy is face down on the pavement after his bobsled ride.