Try It: Bobsleigh at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park
It’s fun and exhilarating but not for the faint of heart (or neck).
If you’ve ever watched the sport of bobsleigh on TV, you’ve seen the athletes whooshing down the ice-covered track, entering and exiting turns at breakneck speeds while appearing still and smooth. It’s an exciting sport, to be sure, and one you can try at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park, but don’t expect it to be smooth.
I had the opportunity to try it up at COP recently (on an bizarrely balmy plus-16C. day in January), and I jumped at the chance, being a lover of winter sports and speed in general. I imagined myself pushing the sled with my other three teammates and then, mid-sprint, deftly swinging myself into my seat to tuck in behind the driver. But it was not to be. Recreationalists simply climb in the sled at the top and sit while it’s stationary – a good thing considering the amount of wriggling it took to get comfy, so never mind getting in while it’s moving.
By the time we were in the sled, we had already watched a safety video and been outfitted with a helmet, since safety is obviously a primary concern. The experienced bobsledders working there also gave clear instructions about how to sit and hold our shoulders and neck for maximum stability and protection. Clearly, they respect the fact that a 450-pound sled and 120 km/h speeds are not to be taken lightly. In the hands of an experienced, professional driver, though, I felt quite safe.
So, with one push, our group of three, plus our driver, were off. For the first few seconds, our speed seems to build slowly, and the first turn was exhilarating, as was the second. By the time we hit corner five, the turns came so fast and furious that any hope of holding my head up had vanished, thanks to the 5G forces.
When I was initially told the run lasts about 60 seconds, I was a little disappointed. It sounded short. By the end of the wild ride, I was thanking everything holy that it was only one minute. At no time was I afraid, but it was definitely an aggressive experience, and my body took a bit of a pounding through the 14 turns, so much respect to the people who do this on a regular basis, training and representing our country.
There’s no doubt it’s a rush – one that thrill-seekers should definitely experience, if only to celebrate the fact that we’re lucky to have a World Cup track here in our own backyard. But it’s not for everyone – anyone with neck, back or problems should take a pass, and pregnant women or people under 16 years old are not allowed.
If you’re up for it, visit winsport.ca for more information.