Want to know what the force of 4G’s feels like? Or what it’s like to take a 100 km/hr sleigh ride?
You can find out at Winsports Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Canada.
In 1988, Calgary hosted the 15th Winter Olympics. The Calgary games, back then, were the most expensive Olympics ever held. This was due in part to the cities lack of Olympic sporting facilities.
Five of the main venues were constructed especially for the games, including Canada Olympic Park, located on the outskirts of the city. The park, which hosted freestyle skiing, luge, bobsled, and ski jumping was the most expensive facility to build. Luckily, the Olympic Organizing Committee turned record profits from the games. Some of the money was used to maintain the Olympic Venues going forward.
Today, Winsports Canada Olympic Park is a bustling athletic training facility and year round recreation area because of that.
They even offer the general public chances to experience the thrill of Olympic sport as well!
One of those exciting activities is the Public Bobsleigh ride.
Dubbed the fastest sport on ice, we couldn’t wait to give bobsledding a try!
So we visited Winsports website and booked a ride.
We arrived early on a cool snowy morning excited to slide down the same Olympic bobsled track we’d watched athletes rocket down back in ’88.
It wasn’t until after we were briefed on potential “discomfort” to be aware of, and the standard signing of waivers I started to have second thoughts about the ride.
I don’t think I was alone, our shuttle up the hill to the start was unnervingly quiet…
Everyone in our group had an idea what we were in for in the next half hour.
We were about to hurtle down an icy track in a metal tube on rails at over 100 km an hour, feeling so much downward pressure we may not be able to keep our heads up. Not to mention the constant jostling we’d feel and the loud rattling we’d hear. It would be like going through a spin cycle while we were flying down the hill.
Our driver broke the silence, encouraging us to ask questions and quizzing us to see if we were paying attention during the introductory safety briefing.
There were a few one-word responses to his questions from the group but he did most of the talking. He explained that the starting point for the ride had changed to make the experience more comfortable for rookie riders like us.
In the beginning, the Public Bobsleigh followed the same route athletes trained for years to compete on. The Olympic route was hard on athletes bodies, imagine how hard it could be on someone who’d never ridden a bobsled before!
I felt a little bit better knowing we would experience all the speed but it would be a smoother ride starting from where the Public Bobsleigh started from now.
We arrived at the start, everyone piled out of the shuttle and filed into the little hut to meet our expert pilots and get suited up for the ride.
We were divided into groups of three as the sleds are designed for four people; in our case one pro pilot and three civilian riders. I stared out the window as Winsport workers unloaded sleds for us to use.
As they were laid on the start platform on their sides for inspection, I hoped our sled wouldn’t end up looking the same way having tipped on the track. We were told that could happen.
Rob remained cool as a cucumber, and when I asked him “Do you feel a bit nervous?” he replied “No. Why would I feel nervous?” His relaxed response made me feel a bit better.
We were instructed to grab a helmet that fit properly (our pilots would check the fit prior to our ride) and then grouped together with our sled mates. Our team went out on the third sled.
The Winsport team took a picture of us before we all climbed in the sleek metal sled. Our sled mate was the lightest so she sat directly behind the pilot, I was next, and Rob was at the back. Our pilot told us where the sled would be the fastest, and that we may scream.
Then in a flurry, we all climbed in the and then pushed quickly onto the track. We were away!
The ride was incredibly fast, and the turns were intense.
Yes, I did kind of scream; no, we didn’t tip. Although, it felt like we would capsize on every turn.
Everyone kept their heads up to see every part of our expertly piloted ride!
It was an absolutely thrilling experience.
It was so cool to be locals and participate in an activity that was so foreign to us.
We can honestly say, riding the Public Bobsleigh at Winsports Canada Olympic Park was an experience we’ll never forget!
You can ride the Public Bobsleigh in the winter and the summer. During the summer months, the sleds are on wheels as there’s no ice on the track. The ride is a bit slower, up to 80+km/hr but still just as exciting, I’m sure!
Featured image photo by Raven_2013 via Flickr under license (CC BY-ND 2.0)