It seems like we only hear about bobsledding during the Winter Olympics. But it’s going on all the time, especially now. In fact, the U.S. won a gold medal in Switzerland this weekend in the combined bobsled-skelton competition which included U.S. summer Olympic medalist Lolo Jones as brakewoman. Overshadowing this accomplishment however was my own personal bobsledding experience with my brother Russ visiting from Chicago.
I live about 15 minutes from the bobsled course built for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. They offer rides to the general public (for a price, of course) but I hadn’t taken one in the six years I’ve lived here because I hadn’t found someone to go with me. Fortunately, my younger brother Russ (pic), also a winter sports fan, planned a visit here this past weekend and it was the perfect opportunity.
It was easy to find the website to sign up for the ride which, judging by the crowds, is very popular. We registered just the day before and got in but I’d sign up earlier if you can. You show up about an hour before for the obligatory signing of waivers preventing you from suing, and a brief but very valuable safety class. Then they bus you up to the start location, you get a helmet, another briefing and you’re ready.
Unfortunately, they don’t allow you to shoot video of your ride on the sled. It’s probably a good thing because you really want concentrate on holding on. I sneaked my GoPro on by hanging it around my neck to try and get some race video but it just didn’t turn out. The sled is just too deep to shoot over so I wouldn’t even try. However, they do allow you to shoot before and after the ride which is the video you see above. Viewers will just have to find out for themselves how unbelievable the experience is.
Also unbelievable was that out of the eleven sleds racing in our group, Russ’ and mine had the fastest time: 54.95. But the time is irrelevant. What you remember is the incredible 5G crush on you going into each of the 15 high-banked curves at 80+ m.p.h. And if you’re sitting in the farthest back of the four positions, be ready to feel like a bobblehead doll as you fly down the icy trail. There’s really only one thing left to say: to know how it feels, you’ve just got to do it.