Oh, one could say that excitement filled the air of our cosy Calgary home at the anticipation of our bobsleigh ‘wild ride’. No expectations, only excitement at the thought of another sort of adrenaline rush (outside of our realm of skydiving).
We arrived on time for our 2:30pm ‘Tour Bob’, at the top of the CODA’s Canada Olympic Park hill where the 1,500 metre ice track carves its way around 14 corners of pure exhilaration. As an aside, it’s important for me to point out that skydiving is relatively safe in comparison to bobsleigh racing … when jumping out of an airplane, the only time that we are dangerously close to the ground is in our final few seconds before a tippy-toed flare or a fast paced flare & run. If necessary, we can perform a PLF (parachute landing fall) to ‘cushion’ a clumsy landing (whether it be on land, tarmac or tree!). I won’t go into malfunctions or non-pulls in skydiving where the danger of course is imminently more tangible @ 120mph. But these instances are the exceptions. Careening down a icy chute like a rocket on a bobsled is another thing … being inches away from severe ice-burn and a broken body, at all times, makes me rather nervous, to say the least. 😉 But, being the adrenaline-junkies that we are, slaDE and I were up for the challenge (pretty much like a tandem ride — going along for the spin).
We were introduced to our pilot Sarah on entrance to the registration area, at the top of the bobsled run. For what it was worth, we really tried to persuade Sarah (she’s been piloting a bobsleigh for 11 years) into allowing slaDE to wear my skydiving camera-helmet (with, of course, my Sony handycam attached) to capture the 60 second thrill-ride. But because it wasn’t a full-face enclosure, the possibility was nixed. Somewhat deflated, but still enthusiastic, we were kitted out and settled into our sled … just like that, with minimal instruction! And of course, we didn’t have to push the sled and jump into
For me, the experience was pretty much like a wicked rollercoaster ride multiplied by 100. The g’s pulled as we navigated the 14 curves were intense …. up to 4.5 g’s on the radical curves. Our top speed was clocked at 122.6 km/hr and we crossed the finish line in 59.87 seconds!
Haven’t had this kind of rush since …. ages! My knees were shaking and my legs wobbled like jelly. I’m truly happy that I didn’t eat anything beforehand, in anticipation of the possibility of ‘tossing my cookies’. Can you believe that it’ll be 2 years this August 21st (yes, the day before my birthday :o) since I last extricated myself from an airplane — 2 years ago since I dislocated my shoulder?!! I was really really due for shaking things up a bit … a homecoming, of sorts. In fact, I have to admit that I haven’t had this kind of neck ‘vibrancy’ since shooting video. Ouch! My head was tossed around like a ping pong ball being whacked in reckless abandon; my noodle lolled from side to side with every g-force turn, as I forgot to shrug my shoulders in protection. I can honestly (and embarrassingly) say that I wasn’t in a hurry to go back up there and try it again. But the thrill didn’t stop here … the waiver that we signed was not for the bobsleigh ride itself, but for the drive up the mountain in the sled shuttle ;). Sarah was by far the better of the drivers …. this was indeed scary with as many vertical twisty turns to the top.
Our infectious post-ride excitement apparently was contagious. Sarah casually asked slaDE about his athleticism … and being the proud partner, I gushed about his natural talents and strengths, in anything that he pursues athletically. Slade, being the modest man that he is, laughed at her candour and questioning. From there, Sarah made him a proposition. If he was interested, slaDE could train with her teammates and enter the 2007 VISA CANADIAN BOBSLEIGH, SKELETON AND LUGE CHAMPIONSHIPS this Thursday, if he was up for a challenge. The official training would take place this Tuesday evening, with 2 orientation runs. A zealous and ebullient ‘yes’ was resounded by slaDE, excited at the prospect of 4 more runs AND the thought of competing against Canada’s top sliding athletes (who are coming off successful World Cup and Europa Cup seasons)!
Being in the right place, at the right time … I must be rubbing off on him?!