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The speed » Recognizing that it would probably be a little too much to do the aerial ski jumping session and the summer bobsled on the same day, I returned to Utah Olympic Park a few days later.
A friend who knew someone who had done the summer ride probably got me in the wrong frame of mind when she told me he described it as "having your innards yanked from your body, put in a Cuisinart and put back in your body." Turns out, it was a pretty decent description.
If you go
Utah Olympic Park in Park City offers a number of public participation programs. Visit the website utaholympiclegacy.com for details. An introductory two-hour freestyle ski jumping introduction clinic for ages 7 and older for $95 includes equipment. Summer bobsled rides are $75 and winter bobsled rides are $200. The park also offers a ropes course and a zip line.
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On the summer ride, one of the designated bobsled drivers got us close to 70 mph and probably G-forces of three and maybe four. I crawled out of the sled a little wobbly. I told someone the next day that I felt like my spine was on fire and that I had never been so aware of every bone in my back and neck as I was for the few hours after the ride. That being said, it was an incredible thrill.
The only comparison I can make is that it was a pretty rough version of a roller coaster, as it seemed like we felt every expansion joint in the concrete track.
My return in February for the winter ride was worth the wait. Ice on the track covers the joints and makes the winter experience a much smoother slide. However, the speed and G-forces (upward of 80 mph and four or five G’s) more than made up for the lack of expansion joints.
We crammed into the tight sled, with me in the rear. Our ride started well enough with shouts of excitement from myself and the other two riders behind the driver, but the cheers didn’t last very long as we were quickly zooming along at breakneck speeds. I had my shoulders and knees flared against the sides of the sled in an attempt to reduce the violent rocking back and forth.
It was in the third turn where I made the mistake of relaxing a bit too much. We hit the high turn and my body seemingly turned to Jell-O. I couldn’t recover and spent the rest of the ride just trying to keep my head up so I could see.
We slowed as the driver braked us at the finish. When my world stop rocking back and forth I was just glad I hadn’t peed my pants like I had heard happens when some people experience the G-forces. It might have bruised that Olympic pride.
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