This week, the Whistler Sliding Centre opened its public bobsleigh experience. This activity on the fastest track in the world now joins skeleton as a once in a lifetime bucket list item that brings you closer to being an Olympic athlete than you ever thought possible.
Many Canadian lads and lasses have grown up watching the Winter Olympics on TV with their parents. Aside from figure skating and ice hockey, what else is more iconic and exhilarating than bobsleigh? Hulk-like men and women running, then jumping into a tiny bathtub sized sled and pummeling down the track at lightening speed. We’ve all secretly wanted to be one of those bronzed gods and goddesses in tights and spiked Adidas shoes.
Much to the chagrin of my boyfriend – who has wanted to be a bobsledder since he was a little boy – I had the opportunity to try the experience with some of my colleagues.
After a brief introduction to the sport and some important safety information, we are shuttled up to the start, which is more than two-thirds up the track above the public skeleton start.
There, we meet our professional bobsleigh driver Pat Brown, who just so happens to have been the coach of the original Jamaican Bobsleigh Team and the inspiration for John Candy’s character in the film “Cool Runnings.”
Pat tells us that the minimum age to begin bobsleigh is 16 and there is only one junior bobsleigh team in Canada.
As my 2 female colleagues and I hop into the sled, my heart skips a beat. “Has anyone ever thrown up in one of these things?”
Our fearless leader Pat bonks us all on the helmet as a show of solidarity and good luck before he hops in.
The track crewman gets us off to a running start – we aren’t allowed to run ourselves for obvious reasons. And, we’re off. I can hear one of them on the radio: “Be prepared. It’s a light sled.” What does that mean?
At first the sled moves at a slow, rattling pace and I think: “This isn’t so bad. It’s like bumper cars.”
Then all of a sudden, the sled picks up speed. I assume the position we learned: shoulders shrugged, arms wide and strong, holding on for dear life with a white knuckle grip.
As we swerve from left to right through the turns, our sled is now a Mack Truck and then a 747 Jet. “Sweet Jebus, hold on!” I’m screaming the whole way down and so are my 2 sled companions. Pat is as calm as a cucumber – I assume.
As we enter the final Thunderbird turn, the sled hits its fastest speeds and my brain feels a little fuzzy.
As we come to a complete stop, my head is still buzzing from the G-force and adrenaline. Pat high-5s us as we step onto the finish platform, just like his Jamaican brethren many years ago.
In just 45 seconds we’ve descended the world’s fastest track, reaching speeds at 125 kilometres per hour. No big deal.
Would I do it again? Heck yes! And you should too.
The public bobsleigh experience is $149 CAD + tax
Sessions are 2 hours
1 bobsleigh ride per participant