Utah Olympic Park: Riding the Comet in Park City

Olympic ParkThere was some tension – no, more like downright nervousness  –  during orientation for the Comet bobsled ride, and it was palpable. Mostly because it stemmed from the uniqueness of the event. No one there had ridden a bobsled or known anyone who had, except for the employees at the Utah Olympic Park, and they weren’t talking. Sure, we were told about posture – keeping our shoulders up and tight would minimize our heads bouncing around, but that was about it on what to expect as we rocketed down the $33 million Olympic track at Utah Olympic Park. We’d reach speeds of up to 65 MPH and pull 3.5 Gs in the corners while riding in the four-man, $25,000 bobsled. But none of those figures were going through my head as we crammed like sardines into the sled. (How do they do this on the run in the Olympics?) I had opted for the rear seat, which had the least visibility but was also the roughest ride because the two-piece sled tended to crack like a whip at the end. Yes, I was going to feel it. Olympic ParkThe green light illuminated, and as we rolled down the metal ramp onto the track, rapidly gaining speed, there wasn’t much else to think about except for holding on as the professional driver guided us on our journey. It really was like a tight, low-to-the-ground rollercoaster, with your rear end only inches off the ice, the sled swinging like a pendulum through the turns. Creating the icy track is very labor intensive, as it has to be formed and maintained by hand. The imperfect ice is alive, reacting to temperatures and weather conditions. I felt every bump, every nuance of the track as we raced toward the uphill finish line, gravity finally relenting as we cried uncle, and acting as our ally to help slow us down. We emerged all smiles, not just from the rush of completing the ¾ mile long course, but from the weight of the apprehension lifting off our shoulders. No, we didn’t capture Olympic gold, but maybe in some tiny part, we experienced what the glory was like.

Olympic Park (2)The 400-acre Utah Olympic Park is located minutes from downtown and features six Nordic ski jumps, a comprehensive 2002 Winter Games museum, a café and adventure activities such as zip lining, a ropes course and a drop tower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as staff writer and photographer for RTX Traveler Magazine, based in Asheville, NC. His favorite RTX destinations are on the beach: Orange Beach, Alabama, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. .

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