The Tourist Bobsled

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck
“I have to ask…” I said to Richard Christensen, our bobsledding pilot for that afternoon, “has anyone ever peed in the bobsled before?”

Richard answered as I expected, in the affirmative. “And vomited too,” he added, after explaining what our bodies were about to be put through. Don’t fight the force, he said repeatedly, referring to the g-force of 4.5 we would feel going into some of the turns. Those turns would see our body weight increase by 4.5 times the normal and jostle us around like an erratic spin cycle.

I had asked out of interest and not out of speculation of my own bodily functions, but as I climbed into the bobsled, sandwiched between Richard and Pete, I actually began to really worry. Here I was again, believing I was entirely brave enough for such an excursion, to sustain one minute of racing down a track at 120kms/hour in an open tube on steel runners. And once again I entered sheer panic mode in the last few seconds.

But there was no turning back at that point.

Calgary Olympic Park Bobsled Track

Calgary-Olympic-Park-Bobsled-Start

(For your viewing pleasure, I wore a GoPro strapped to my helmet so you could feel every twist and turn. That large banging noise throughout would be when the camera was bouncing off of Richard’s helmet in front of me. I truly had no control on which way my body was moving inside the sled.)

The Canada Olympic Park in Calgary is the only place in North America where tourists can ride the entire track and feel every curve that former Olympians felt. Home to the 1988 Winter Olympics, it is still used as a training facility and race track. And even though the speed we reached was about 10km/hr short of what the athletes would feel, both Pete and I came away with a newfound appreciation for the sport and what it would take to compete.

Because after the third turn, when we headed into the first full turn on the fourth, the well-being of our bodies was at the mercy of Richard, the sled, and an icy track.

We emerged 62.56 seconds after starting with a sore neck, and my legs had pinpoints of pain from where they were pressed up against Pete’s shoes.

The well-being of our bodies was at the mercy of Richard, the sled, and an icy track
Calgary-Olympic-Park-Bobsled-Time

We had the best time of the day! Solely because we had the only time of the day.

Words julbmed in my haed. I wanted to profusely thank Richard for getting us down the hill safely, but his name was entirely lost on me – I’m guessing that it fell out of my brain on turn nine out of fourteen, along with the tears that were uncontrollably streaming from my eyes. The speed and force with which we took that track knocked the mascara right off of my face. For several days later I would find bruises scattered across my body.

Calgary Olympic Park Bobseld Helmet Cam

I was never, in my life, so thankful for a helmet. Even if it did give me this delightful “squished face” look.

And yet it is one of those crazy things that I still really want to do again, even with all the momentary hardships and concern of soiling myself. I have always said that I’ve never understood the drive of extreme athletes to do what they do, but I’m definitely beginning to.

How to do it

Canada Olympic Park is open year-round in Calgary, offering a vast array of activities including bobsledding, skiing/snowboarding, and even a halfpipe in winter. In summer, there’s mountain biking, mini-golf and even a 500 meter zipline that goes up to 140 kms an hour. There are no shortage of adrenaline rushes available! For details on the bobsledding, go here.

Many thanks to Travel Alberta and Tourism Calgary for their assistance during our stay. As always, all opinions are our own.

0 Comments... Be the first to comment
  • February 6 2014

    OMG this looks/sounds so EPIC! It’s totally going on my bucket list!!! Methinks I may need to plan a trip to Calgary…
    Amanda recently posted..Lantau Island: A Green Escape From Hong Kong

  • Bri
    February 6 2014

    Great post kids!! Love the headbanging!!

    • February 7 2014

      Haha, like we had a choice whether our head was banging or not. 🙂

  • February 6 2014

    Ha! Exactly the sort of thing we love to do. We’re going to be near Calgary this summer. Can they keep the track cold enough until then??

    • February 7 2014

      Ooh, make sure you go do the zipline then! 140km/hr, that would be nuts. We might have to come back and do that. 🙂

  • February 6 2014

    I have been there! However, I was ten at the time, so I was confined to posing in the Jamaican bobsled of ‘Cool Runnings’ fame parked out the front. This looks like a good reason to return 🙂
    Caitlyn recently posted..How do you solve a problem like Albania?

    • February 7 2014

      That bobsled is still there!

  • February 6 2014

    I’m game – what man doesn’t enjoy getting thrown down an ice track balls first? Congrats on getting best time of the day – it was a fight against yourselves, and you came out on top! Good luck!
    Lunaguava recently posted..Climbing the Pacaya Volcano (Unleashed)

    • February 7 2014

      We were stiff competition. But we kicked our asses.

  • A Montrealer Abroad
    February 6 2014

    Bobsledding sounds terrifying. After seeing the video I’m not sure I would give it a try, knowing that you are considered quite adventurous and even YOU were scared!

    • February 7 2014

      I am always scared, of everything. But somehow I keep managing to do it, so I’m not labeled a chicken. 🙂

  • February 6 2014

    Looks like such a rush! The way your head was bobbing about reminded me of when I was on the X2 rollercoaster (must look it up if you aren’t familiar). You get jerked around and go very fast but bobsledding on ice still seems to have an ere of danger to it. I’d love to have a group and bet drinks of who’ll have the fastest time lol.
    Murissa recently posted..A Piece of Paris in Canada: Learning to make Macarons with Sandrine French Pastry and Chocolate {Video}

    • February 7 2014

      You know what’s ridiculous? You won’t get me on a roller coaster. No way!

  • February 6 2014

    I am so glad you took video. I really would love to try this out sometime since I loved the Cool Runnings movie back in the day. Maybe someday!

    • February 7 2014

      I was so glad we could video it too. Every time I watch it I laugh pretty hard. 🙂

  • February 7 2014

    Holy crap that looks intense! And amazing! I would love to experience that rush. Hopefully I won’t be one of those who pee their pants 🙂
    Heather recently posted..Snapshot: Central Park in Winter

  • February 7 2014

    What an incredible experience, and not one that I would ever be brave enough for! I don’t think my body would come out in one piece. Great story, I really enjoyed reading it.

  • February 7 2014

    I’ve always wanted to try it but now after reading and seeing this I think I might be just too much of a coward after all 😉

  • Caro
    February 7 2014

    OH SWEET JESUS. This looks 100% insane. Don’t think I could do it, kudos! Funny enough, I’m scarred from a bad sledding accident that happened on a drunken university night, where we thought it’d be wise to steal election campaign signs and slide on them. Little did I know, when sledding that we’d hit an ice block! We flew up in the air, and I landed on a snow covered stair rail! Fractured my rib! It’s actually a hilarious story but oh boy, seeing your bobsledding video gave me chills!

    • February 7 2014

      Wow, that is not funny at all! That would have scarred me for life too!

  • Jac
    February 10 2014

    looks better than any roller coaster (and more painful too!) all that knocking around… but awesome video 🙂
    Jac recently posted..Pretending to be a Pilot – My Flight Simulator Experience

  • February 10 2014

    Oh my God! Really an insane experience. I bet you are courageous. With that speed! i don’t think i can try Bobsled.
    Jeff recently posted..Weekly Roundup – Eccentric Airports in the World

  • February 12 2014

    Great story!!! I think I’ll stay away from that one considering I have neck problems. lol. I hope you guys didn’t injure yourself too much.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Tricia
    February 14 2014

    Wow what an experience! So jealous especially since I’m watching the Olympics.

  • February 17 2014

    This looks so intense! I’m not sure if I’d do it, or not, haha!

  • February 18 2014

    After seeing a comedy about Jamaican Bob Sleigh athletes, there is no way you would get me in one of them!
    Natalie recently posted..Gobekli Tepe: The Ancient Religious Temple that Threw the History World into Chaos

  • February 18 2014

    Sign me up right now! Totally want to do this. 🙂

    Love the addition of the Go Pro video, totally feel as if I was there.

  • February 18 2014

    Great post and love the Go Pro video. What a trip!

  • February 19 2014

    You are my heroes! We were watching the bobsledders in Sochi last night — I’m always amazed at how fast they’re going and how dangerous it could be. Good for you. I think I might be able to ride the tourist bobsled, but I’m sure I’d be screaming the whole way.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Bay Area Getaway at the Napa River Inn

  • February 21 2014

    That’s going to take a lot more courage than I have right now. So fast, but looks like worth being dizzy afterwards. I need a GoPro, too.

  • February 21 2014

    I did this bobsled run about 18 months ago and have never been so thankful to be finished an adventure in my life. We clocked in at 95 kms/hr and that was fast enough for me. At one point I had my head banging as I wasn’t centered properly or my core wasn’t engaged or who knows what.
    What a wild ride; the zipline in COP is one of the fastest I have ever done too.
    Leigh recently posted..Alta Lodge: It’s the Real Deal for Skiers

  • February 25 2014

    That looks like such an adrenaline rush! Wow! What a great and memorable experience. Thanks for sharing.

  • Joanie Joan
    March 4 2014

    That’s cray. You were like a human bobble head. Now that I’ve watched the video, I never have to do that myself. Thanks! 😉

  • Rosanna
    July 1 2014

    Looks unreal! Do you have to have a season pass for the winsport centre or can you go for the day and just pay to do the bobsleigh?? Really want to do it! Thanks

    • July 2 2014

      Hi Rosanna! This is available without a season pass. Enjoy!

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