Watch the lip and steer like an Olympian

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at

A lot ran through my mind as I was about to plunge the equivalent of 15 stories on an icy track at highway-rated speeds. I had mostly second thoughts about what had seemed like a fun idea, mixed with intense visualization on how to steer a 300-pound metal sled down a labyrinth of half-pipe turns in a way that wouldn’t result in serious bodily harm, or worse.

Sitting in the cockpit, I braced my knees against the side of the sled, pressed down hard on the stationary foot pegs, and readjusted the bulky, full-face motorcycle helmet.

“How fast will we go,’’ I asked Pat Brown, my instructor at the Bobsled Driving School at Utah Olympic Park outside Park City.

“You’ll be going slow — about 55 miles per hour,’’ he said, as he squatted next to our sled.

That may have sounded slow to someone like Brown, a former member of the US bobsled team who went on to coach the Jamaican bobsled team (think “Cool Runnings’’) in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, the first US women’s bobsled team in 1998, and this year’s Korean team at the Vancouver Olympic games. But for someone like me, a first-time bobsledder, 55 sounded downright scary.

I gripped the D-shaped steering rings that were attached to the bobsled’s front runners by rope and said, “OK, I’m ready.’’

“No jerky movements,’’ said Brown, who is now head coach of the park’s Bobsled and Skeleton Development Program. “The less steering you do, the better you’ll do.’’

Hunkered behind me, in the “brakeman’’ position of our two-person sled, sat Robert Purviance, another novice who had come from Los Angeles to give bobsledding a shot. If he liked it, he planned to try out for the national bobsled team.

“Let’s do it,’’ said Purviance.

“Sled in track. Sled in track from the Junior Start,’’ a voice called out over the loudspeaker.

“Just remember to relax and breathe,’’ said Brown, as he gently pushed us off the start line. There was no turning back.

Click here to read the entire article.

Click here to take your own ride on The Comet bobsled!


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