Pilot: Landon Phillips
Riders: A couple and myself
Time: 53.08 seconds
Speed: 78 miles per hour (5 G’s of force, equivalent to a 40-story drop)
Thurs., March 20, 2008
The day I had been anticipating finally arrived … I pulled into Olympic Park around 3:10 p.m. My purpose for being there was to embark on a once in a lifetime experience — a run on the official Olympic bobsled course from the 2002 Winter Games. It is the only facility in the United States where you can go down the full Olympic bobsled track used by the athletes. My heart was pounding with anticipation!
I had about one hour to kill before orientation started, so I decided to tour the grounds. Midway on the mountain I stopped at the main building, which housed an interactive Utah ski and 2002 Winter Games museum. Further along the way to my destination I observed the Freestyle Training Pool, Ski Jump, Women and Men’s Luge tracks and Bobsled track, all of which were incredible to see in real life. I soon approached the bobsled starting gate area at the top of the mountain. I checked in, signed the required legal waiver and took a seat in the classroom. The room was filled with 19 participants and some observers. Seven bobsleds were scheduled to make a run that day. John Green, our knowledgeable instructor got straight to the point, informing us on the best position for our head, neck and arms; health precautions; what to expect during the run and how to protect ourselves if, in the rare event, the bobsled were to flip over. He went on to tell us that our head with our helmet would feel like 50 pounds due to the G forces and that EMTs would be at the finish line as a precaution.
Ready to go, we headed over to a rack of helmets. I selected a red one in honor of my Ducati. Each bobsled aka “The Comet” held an experienced instructor positioned at the front and three riders. We were warned that the roughest position was the rear. Thankfully, I was positioned right behind the driver. The only modification made to the sled for untrained riders such as ourselves was that the rear brake had been moved to the front. Also, instead of running at the start of the track and jumping in, we were positioned in the sled and two guys gave us a push.
Off we went down the 8/10 of a miles course around 16 swift curves. It was AMAZING; unlike any rush I had ever felt. It seemed to end in the blink of an eye. When we reached the finish line we carefully unloaded. I felt a little dizzy, but on top of the world!
About My Driver: Landon Phillips was my pilot. He started driving bobsleds at the age of 13. He went to the Olympic trials in 2002 when he was 18 years old. Landon didn’t make the Olympic team, but he was selected to be the forerunner for all the bobsled races during the Winter Games. He raced bobsleds for the U.S. for one more year, left to live in Ecuador for two years and returned to the U.S. in 2005. Since that time he’s been driving passenger bobsleds at Utah’s Olympic Park and attending college.