Bobsledding is, without a doubt, one of the most exhilarating activities you can do in the winter. Imagine yourself sitting in a torpedo on skis, literally almost flying down a mountain, with the cold wind hitting your face and your body being jerked back and forth by the momentum of the sled. Sounds like a blast, doesn't it? If you love both winter and the sensation of speed, then the Lake Placid bobsled ride is for you!
Bobsledding was first tried back in 1897 in Switzerland. An adventurous group of vacationers tried putting runners on their toboggan because they wanted to go faster. This new way of zipping down the mountain became popular very quickly with the American and British tourists. At first the sleds were made of wood, but it soon became apparent that metal sleds were much faster.
Soon the first organized competition took place, in 1898. The bobsled held 5 passengers (interestingly, 2 of them were women!) and had 4 runners, placed on axles like on a car. This adaptation allowed for better steering. At this point, though, the speed was becoming so fast that it was very dangerous, so an artificial bobsled run was built at St. Moritz. This new run had a gentler slope, so wasn't as fast.
Bobsledding has been part of Winter Olympic competition ever since the first games held in 1924. And of course, in 1932 the Games were held in Lake Placid.
Lake Placid has made it possible for everyday folks like you and me to experience the thrill of riding a bobsled down a mountain - if you're brave enough!The original Olympic bobsled run is maintained at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex. They've custom built the sleds to make them a little more "non-Olympic athlete" friendly, but they still are true bobsleds.
You'll ride with a professional driver and brakeman down the track, so no worries about how to steer or stop. You get a half-mile ride down zig-zagging hairpin curves, where the sled shoots up onto the sides of the track so that you'd swear you're hanging upside down. The announcer on his microphone adds to the fun as he follows your course - "And they're zigging ... and they're zagging." Now they're zigging and zagging."
After about a 35 second ride filled with screaming, you slide to a stop. And then you'll want to get out and do it all over again! Even though it may not feel like it, it is safe. And at the end of your ride each passenger receives a complementary bobsled lapel pin and a commemorative photo. (Just remember to pinch your cheeks before your picture so you don't look pale after your ride!)
As always, I strive to give my visitors the best and most honest information. To see reviews of the bobsled ride from real people, click here.
What's really interesting about this ride is that you can do it in the summer, too. Obviously there's no ice, but the course is still fast and furious. Check out this video of a summertime run:
Price for the ride (as of 2008) is $75.00 for adults, $70.00 for teens ages 13 - 19, and $65.00 for kids 12 and under. There's a 48" height requirement.
You can go bobsledding Wednesdays through Sundays. Times usually start at 10 am or noon. The winter season runs from November 23, 2007 through April 27, 2008. It might be a good idea to make a reservation to make sure you get a seat. Call 518.523.4436 for specific days, times and to get your reserved seat.
For some serious winter thrills, why not try bobsledding at Lake Placid?