Florida Guide > Travelling
Lake Placid, New York. Pt 3
It was a short car journey to Mount Van Hoevenberg and the Olympic Sports Complex. This is the home of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic in ground bobsled run, which, in 2010 was placed on The National Register of Historic Places. The site now also houses the newer and more modern combined track, constructed in 2000 for bobsled, skeleton and luge , and to where competitors from all over the world come to train for important competitions.
In the winter months you can take a bobsled run down part of the current run and in the summer you can ride part of the 1980 in ground run on a bobsled with wheels. My husband was keen to participate in this and his Olympic Passport gave him 20% off the $80 fee which he thought was worth it for the once in a lifetime experience. He was given a time and told to wait on the bridge (over the run) until the minibus called for him and we spent a few minutes watching other bobsled teams come down. The minibus duly arrived and he disappeared up the mountain. The team is made up of a professional driver and brakeman with the amateurs sandwiched in between them, and I am told that on the journey to the start of the run they were given safety briefings before being given helmets and of course signing the obligatory waiver. . . . . . . . not sure he would have been covered by travel insurance! I am told that waiting to ride raised the adrenalin levels and for some the levels of apprehension! My husband reports that his lasting memory was of the wind on the small exposed area of his face and the noise of the bobsled on the track.
I waited on the bridge for the tannoy to announce his team and then stood with camera poised wanting to capture his journey. It seemed like ages before they came rumbling down the track but they were past in a flash and up the other side to the run off where they disembarked for the short walk back to the bridge and where the bobsled was loaded on to a truck to return to the start. He now has the T-shirt, official photo and pin to say that he did it, I am not too ashamed to say that I did not although it looked a fantastic experience and great fun!
Following my husbands survival we hopped on the minibus and took a guided tour of the run. The 1980 run, built in ground was far more accessible to spectators as they could get right up to the edge and watch the competitors, it was built with the intention of lasting 3 months but parts of the track are still in use today some 30+ years later, although we were told it would not withstand being covered by ice and the thoughts are that the lip would not contain a modern bobsled, the one used for today' s tourists to ride the track is a 1990' s design. We were able to get out of the minibus and walk right up to edge of the track to view a portion that is not used at all today.
Back in the minibus we travelled further up the mountain to the start of the new track where we were able to stand and see the view the competitions have at the start of their race. Quite terrifying to think that they will travel down this elevated slide at speeds of up to 80 MPH.
The modern run is not accessible to spectators for much of its length and the sport is now mainly televised. We were told how the run was covered in layers of ice to reach the correct thickness and is then fashioned with an ice chisel by hand! Every night after it has been used the surface has to be re iced and re chiselled!
The next time we watch the winter Olympics will certainly take a great interest in the bobsled , skeleton and luge, Lizzie Yarnold is one brave lady
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