You Can Ride A Real Olympic Bobsled In Park City, Utah
Would you give bobsledding a try?
I chased my own Olympic dreams a few weeks back when I was on a ski trip in Park City, Utah. OK, I just nabbed myself a gold medal for exaggeration. But I did carve out a morning to push my adrenal glands into overdrive and bomb down the Olympic bobsled track that was used in the 2002 Winter Olympics. And you can, too.
Whether you’re in town to ski fresh powder at Park City Mountain Resort, the biggest ski resort in America, or you’re visiting Park City in the summer for one of the many food or music festivals, it’s worth saving room on your itinerary for a stop at the Utah Olympic Park. There, visitors can take to the bobsled tracks and race down the lower third of the tracks. (The upper two-thirds pick up far too much speed for us non-Olympian mortals to safely handle.)
A cool bonus: Bobsled athletes from former Olympics are oftentimes your chauffeurs, so you’re obviously in capable hands as you race down the tracks at top speeds of 60 miles per hour and with 3 G’s of force.
I was in Park City at the lead-up to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, so many of the former Olympic bobsled athletes were busy coaching Olympic-bound athletes. My “bobsled team” was led by a skilled professional who grooms the tracks and, therefore, is intimately familiar with all the twists and turns.
A shuttle drove us up to the top of the tracks, the little red rocket in tow. We strapped on our helmets and, when it was our turn, we climbed in. One by one. Slowly and awkwardly. In fact, if we were actually being timed and competing in the Olympics, we’d be lagging in last place and the race would be about over by the time we finished playing Twister in what was essentially a torpedo-shaped bathtub. I took up the rear.
A pro tip our driver gave us: Shrug your shoulders to help keep your head from essentially turning into one of those Bobble head figurines.
As we took off, the track started out at a leisurely pace. I was actually able to admire the views of the snow-kissed Wasatch Mountains. This was the millisecond in which I was thinking “Oh, hey, I could be a bobsled racer.” Then, as we started to quickly accelerate, that thought was erased from my mind. I closed my eyes as we rattled down the tracks. Also, I doubt the real athletes squeal like I did.
This ride was more thrilling than any amusement park ride I’ve ever been on, and that’s saying a lot. I like to consider myself a bit of a roller coaster aficionado. On our ride down, we took 10 turns. It was like being on a coaster, with some rattling and a super-scenic view layered on.
Perhaps one of the coolest parts is that, at the end of the ride, you can see exactly how you fared. They give you a video at the base of the tracks:
Our team sped down the tracks at a top speed of 63 miles per hour and we finished in just under a minute.
Of course, if bobsledding isn’t your thing, there’s a free museum inside the Olympic park and, for a few quarters, you can try your luck in a simulated ski jump. I did, and I flopped all three times, my animated character splayed out on the screen of a snowy mountain.
So, have the Olympics inspired you to give bobsledding a try?