The Tourist Bobsled

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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.


(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


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.

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  1. 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 🙂

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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! 😉

  11. 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

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