The “Comet” is not an amusement park ride. It’s the real thing — a full-length rip-roaring, 15-curve bobsled run at Utah’s Olympic Park in Park City. And I’ve got the bruises to prove it.
The four-person, 400-pound sled reaches speeds of 80 miles an hour, and you’ll be squished into your seat by five Gs as you snap around the turns. That’s two more Gs than shuttle astronauts must endure during a launch. (Prolonged exposure to just four Gs can make you pass out.)
If that’s not intense enough for you, take your place in seat #4, better known as the brake position. That’s the one where you’re hanging out the back, experiencing the maximum of everything, including the most bumps, motion and G-forces.
I survived a ride in seat #4 yesterday. Survived, literally.
All I can say is that I have a new respect for our Olympic bobsled team. This is every rollercoaster you’ve ever feared, taken to the next level. Without seatbelts.
If you ever find yourself in Park City, and want to try bobsledding, let me warn you about seat #4. This is no joke. You will get shaken up, bruised, whipped around and you may feel as if you are about to pass out.
The first three turns are tame, but after that, you are holding on for dear life, begging for it to end. By turn 8, you can’t look at the track any more. You’re wondering how to remove your head from your lap. Don’t even try.
Through your helmet you can hear the ice being sliced by the bobsled’s blade as your pilot steers into the abyss. It’s a deafening roar. You’re thinking: “I’m gonna die.”
The Olympic Park bobsled run is the longest 55 seconds of your life. But you can live to tell the tale. The pre-run briefing is helpful. I tried to follow all the instructions (shrug your shoulders, bend your knees, hold on, brace yourself with your arms). It’s a lot to remember.
Of all these tips, I would say “watch your head” is the most important one. I got knocked around and sprained my neck (ouch — good thing they have a spa in my hotel). Keep your shoulders against your helmet for the last 35 seconds of this ride, or you will suffer the painful consequences.
Would I do it again? Heck, yeah. Just not in seat #4.
(Photo: iceman9294/Flickr Creative Commons)