Bobsled / Luge / Skeleton Track

Utah Olympic ParkThe construction of the 15 curve and 1,335 meter (8/10ths of a mile) bobsled, skeleton and luge track took 30 months to complete at the cost of about $25 million. The milestone of 100,000 sleds rocketing down one of the fastest tracks in the world since its opening was reached in November 2002. The Utah Olympic Park hosted its first World Cup bobsled event in November 1998, and it continues to be a regular stop on the international World Cup tour in all three sliding sports.

Milestones in the track’s history include the groundbreaking date of June 3, 1994; completion date of December 28, 1996; and the grand opening on January 25, 1997. The first run on the track was completed by luger Jon Owen from the tourist start on January 10, 1997.

The track features five start houses, known as bobsled start, skeleton start, men’s start, women’s start and junior start. There is also a designated on-track tourist start for a public passenger ride program. The sport of luge is timed to the thousandth (.001) of a second while bobsled and skeleton are timed to the hundredth (.01). Only track records during competition are recognized. Infrared and visible light photocells are used for timing.

Other facts and figures about the track are 297,000 watts of track lighting, 62 water hydrants, 24 cameras, 49 timing points and eight scoreboards. A $1 million retractable shading system protects the course from sun and snow, reducing energy usage by 25 percent and eliminating the need to clear snow from the track.

The track generally opens in October and closes at the end of February for the winter sliding season. The process to make ice on the track requires 18 days. A crew of Utah Olympic Park employees maintains a two-week, 24-hour effort to ice the track. The crews leap-frog each other down the track every 20 minutes, plugging into 62 hydrants and spraying the track with hundreds of layers of ice. An additional four-day period is necessary to shape and hone the ice.

The Refrigeration Plant is responsible for creating and monitoring the ice conditions on the track. It has the efficient capability to drop the temperature of the track to below freezing within two hours with outside air temperatures of 80 degrees (F). The track has 59 temperature probes to monitor the ice temperature along the entire length of the track. The track is divided into three zones and the ice temperature in each zone can be adjusted as necessitated by weather conditions. The plant has won various awards for its safety, efficiency and engineering.

The Utah Olympic Park’s steep terrain presented unique challenges for its designers, who crafted the facility carefully to meet demanding competition requirements and limit impact to the land and its wildlife. The bobsled/skeleton/luge course follows the mountain’s natural contours, allowing it to blend in with the landscape. More than three-quarters of the Park remains naturally vegetated, and the Park is home to elk, moose, deer, birds and numerous small mammals.


8 Responses to Bobsled / Luge / Skeleton Track

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  8. Pingback: 2002: Fastest ice on Earth « The Utah Olympic Park Blog

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