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100 kmph on a bobsleigh - James Cove, Igls Olympic bobsleigh track
Tuesday January 18, 2011 - Email this article to a friend

Here on PlanetSKI we are having a go at some of the Winter Olympic sports to see what they are like and to discover a little bit about them. Ever fancied having a go at bobsleigh? Read on.

It doesn't matter how fearless and brave you think you are.

As you are handed a full face crash helmet, you climb into the bob and then glance down at the tight and steep tunnel of ice ahead of you then your heart will beat faster.

You will question exactly why you are doing it.

I went through what I had been told; sit tight, don't lean out of the bob and just stay balanced in it. The driver and break man would do all the work so all I had to do was basically sit tight for a couple of minutes. 

Feeling nervousFeeling nervousThat and deal with the G-forces.

The Innsbruck bob track is one of the most famous in the world and in between the training runs of all the various national teams they allow mere mortals to go down. 

When I was there we were squeezed in between the training runs of the USA, Slovenia and South Korea.

The track was built for the 1976 Winter Olympic Games and is still quite a fearsome track.

It is 900m long with 10 bends and an altitude drop of 100m.

The Olympic trackThe Olympic track

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the walk up a narrow road to the top I enquired why the moss-covered and crumbling walls were shaped a bit like a bob corner.

The track for '64The track for '64

 

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"That's because this was once the track and it was actually used for the 1964 Winter Olympic Games. Ice was created on the stone walls and they came down here," my guide told me. "There were very few safety features and it was a hair-raising ride."

On the way up we saw men spraying the slopes of the new track with water and smoothing it out for the bob.

Hand-made preparationsHand-made preparations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there were the guys with machines.

Machine-made preparationsMachine-made preparations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My heart was beating a little faster and it wasn't just because of the altitude and the steep walk up

Next it was my turn.

The start was actually fairly benign but as we picked up speed the vibrations increased. It felt like I was being rattled around in a very fast and small tin can, hurtling over a seemingly vertical abyss.

The first bend was a gentle left-hander but we seemed to accelerate as we came out of it and the next one sent my stomach up into my chest. I closed my eyes and held on.

I was rocked sharply to the left and then sharply to the right.

How any one could steer the thing at this speed I had no real idea. I opened my eyes and stared sharply at the back of the driver's helmet.  The ice seemed to be remarkably close and we were going fast. Very fast.

Almost 100 km per hour I was told afterwards. I was glad I didn't know it at the time.

Then before I knew it we were rocketing though the finish line and the bob was going uphill to slow down.

We had made it.  One part of me was glad it was over and the other just wanted to do it again.

It was a massive adrenalin rush and great fun.

So would I do it again? You bet.

See why in the video below.

The price for a run in a race bob is €95 or you can go in the guest-bob, a more sedate affair. It starts from a lower position, travels slightly slower and takes 5 people, plus the driver.

It costs a more resonable €30.

Or you can have a go on in a slightly different manner. Head first down a steep tunnel of ice, as some others were doing on my visit.

Forget it.

No thanks!No thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information and to book a ride see here.

For the spirit of the mountains

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