Having dinner with close friends who had returned from a week at Whistler, we were regaled with tales of zip lining over the snow, tubing, dog-sledding, skating, skiing and boarding (of course) and a turn on the 2010 Vancouver Olympic bobsled run!
My friend doesn’t do anything unless it is full throttle, so it didn’t surprise me that he had a hankering for extreme speed. It did, however, surprise me when he said his whole body was sore after the less than 2 minute, nearly $150 (Canadian Dollar) ride down the Olympic track. Kitted out, he was placed in the back seat and braced himself to fly down the mountain.
I am a bit of an Olympic geek so I had lots of questions, not least of which was about the poor Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili who was killed during a training run while reportedly going nearly 150 MPH. I knew he was killed on that very same run and I had watched the tragedy unfold.
The Whistler Sliding Center hosted all the sliding events in the 2010 Games and is now a premiere world track. I know the luge and skeleton are much more dangerous than bobsled because the sleds are less protective, but that accident was so haunting. Often, ex-football players or track stars are inspired to be the anchor of the team on bobsled. Their speed helps a team get a fast start, but even those guys and gals train intensely for the sport. I was relieved to hear that the tourist sleds have higher walls and that they start after the treacherous turn where the accident happened. Although lightning fast, tourist runs are significantly slower than Olympic runs.
With a professional pilot and plenty of gear and preparation, tourists can ride the wind and ice at 125 MPH. My friend lived to tell the tale and has the picture to prove it! As for the Winter Olympics, next up are the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.