Feel Like an Olympic Athlete – The Skeleton Experience

23rd February, 2012

You know that you’re in for a crazy experience when you wake up in the morning with butterflies.

This feeling lasts up until the very moment that you’re face to face with a sheet of ice.You start with a short orientation about the safety precautions involved with going 100KM/H on a sled that is half the size of you. A fifteen minute lesson does not seem justified on paper when you think of the dangers involved when riding down an Olympic track, but the experienced guides ease your mind during the training. If you work up the appetite they give you free coffee and snacks before the big slide.

After the orientation in the guest services building, you have a short 10 minute trek to their takeoff point. Although the takeoff point is only half way up the Olympic track, the amount of speed that you get from this point is more than enough to feed your adrenaline.When it’s your turn to slide, the Skeleton crew gets you pumped for the run and gives you last minute tips to get the most out of your experience and limit injury. They help you strap on your helmet and guide you to the start position. Then it happens… You are face to face with the ice and waiting for the skeleton crew member to push you down. You feel like an Olympic Athlete as they call your name on the loud speaker to any spectators waiting at the bottom of the track. Hold on tight!!

It’s just you, the sled, and the ice. It starts slow and wraps around the first corner. You think to yourself, “This isn’t so bad”. No more than five seconds later the sound of the ice against the sled tracks increases with the speed. Every few seconds that go by - your sled goes twice as fast. The fear turns to excitement as you wrap around the next corner at what you think is going to be the fastest point. You then hit the corner known as “Shiver”, which is not named for the temperature, but for the amount of fear distilled in you as it wraps you around left and then right in a matter of a second. It isn’t until you reach Thunderbird Corner that you reach 100 KM/H and a G-Force that makes you weigh 4 x your own body weight. It is near impossible to keep your head up from grazing the ice with your helmet. Before you know it, the sled begins a straight away and starts to slow down.

As the G-Force reduces, most new riders are prone to lifting their weight off the front of the sled forcing them to ping pong for the last 50 meters or so of the track. This is why I strongly recommend wearing the optional elbow pads. I did not and left with very minor cuts and bruises, however I was wearing a skin tight under armor shirt to increase the speed. When you get up from the sled, your adrenaline is pumping and you are ready for the second run. You will hear over the announcements the speed and time of the run. Try to beat your first time! What a rush! I strongly recommend it!

Tips:

  • Wear a skin tight suit if you can – it increases the speed.
  • Wear elbow pads
  • Get Coast Mountain Photography to take shots of this once in a life time opportunity. You will be sorry if you don’t!

For more information check our the Whistler Sliding Centre website

 

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