Public bobsledding starts its winter season


PARK CITY, Utah — The Utah Olympic Park (UOP) began the new winter season of public bobsled ride offerings on Friday evening to a sold-out session. Last night was the second consecutive sold-out night with all 20 of the spots spoken for. Designed, for the most part, to occur after the ski resorts close for the day, visitors to Park City have taken advantage of the public bobsled program since the track first opened. More nights than not, sold-out is the status quo in years past.

Lake Placid, NY is the only other place members of the public can take such a ride in this country and they’d have to be in Vancouver, Canada to ride the third one in North America. It’s a ride whereby three people, over the age of 16, purchase individual tickets to be passengers in a four-person sled driven by a professional pilot.

While riders get bragging rights saying that they took a trip down an actual Olympic track, a track on which, minutes prior to the start of their session is hosting, this week, an Intercontinental Cup race, the sleds themselves have been modified with enhanced safety features over the sleds they may have seen on TV in any given fourth February.

Slowly stepping into a stationary sled replaces the sprinting start scene seen at Games-time. A waiver, an orientation, a helmet, a photo op, and a push are all administered by the employees of the UOP leaving the only thing for riders to do is hang on and have fun.

1996 saw then Governor Leavitt as one of the very first ones down the track in a public bobsled. He was the first one to publically declare that eating dinner after the ride, not before, wasn’t a bad idea. Other VIPs, especially during the annual, Sundance Film Festival suddenly get excited about whether they gained or last fractions of a second as they speed down the iced track pulling Gs for likely the first and maybe the last time in their lives. However, VIPs must get in line like everyone else who wants to sign up for the finite slots.

Likened to a bungee jump, a Formula 1 hot lap or sky diving, this Olympic-like adrenaline-junkie experience isn’t for everyone but with the holidays comes, each year, a certain number of locals and visitors alike gifting a ride to a loved one as a special and most-memorable present. Precisely in an Olympic winter like this one, corporate parties buy out the whole session just for a chance to be part of all the action, even half a world away. That is when commercials aren’t being filmed there.

As a United States Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, the UOP’s mission has always been to nurture elite athleticism, but it also always carves out spaces to let regular folks share in on the fun.

Public bobsled riders must weigh a minimum of 100 lbs. for an opportunity to book a spot for $195 for the less-than-a-minute ride.

Booking a spot can be done here.

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