Columbia Sportswear – trying stuff since 1938. Me? Trying stuff since 2011, thanks to Columbia Sportswear.
First, Columbia turned me from a little bitch to an outdoor badass (click here to read a June 24, 2011 SNEWS story about my first backpacking trip); now I’m a two-time bobsledding medalist. Well, a one-time bobsledder who happened to win two medals on my first try. Yeah. I’m that awesome.
It was day two into our media trip to see the goodies from Columbia’s fall 2012 line. We had a full day ahead of us that included an unveiling of the new Hometown Heroes exhibit at the Alf Engen Museum in Park City’s Olympic Park (click here to read a story in the Salt Lake City Tribune about the event), bobsledding down the actual 2002 Olympic bobsled course, watching the U.S. Olympic freestyle team practice and touring the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s Center of Excellence. All of this before we saw the new line, highlights of which can be found here.
The night before, I’d decided to give the bobsled a go. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up. I was the perfect candidate simply because I was without neck or back injuries. But I kept hearing people talk about their reasons for not doing it and fear started to creep into my heart.
“I heard some guy say you could break your neck,” one person said.
“The sled could flip over,” said another.
I decided not to let fear get the best of me. Those who chose to bobsled went through a brief orientation, boarded the bus up the mountain to the bobsled start, quickly chose a helmet and went through another set of cautionary instructions.
I was in bobsled No. 3 -- appropriately called "The Comet" -- with two other writers and our professional pilot. We weren’t going to run and jump into the bobsled like the actual athletes do, but I still felt like a butterfly farm was living inside my stomach. I chose position two, right behind the pilot, being that it was the one position that experienced the least of the forces and jerking. I’m brave, but not that brave.
Once we were all positioned inside the bobsled, the pilot slid into his seat, we were given the green light and our fans and friends cheered for us as we slowly slid away from the starting line. I thought it wasn’t so bad, but as soon as we were in the first turn our speed shot to upward of 80 miles per hour. Five G forces were pounding down on us as we went these speeds around turn after turn. We were told multiple times to brace ourselves and keep our backs straight and necks up, I couldn’t seem to keep my head up as the force seemed to be holding it down and not allowing me to scream the way I wanted to.
My shiny new helmet kept banging against the side of the bobsled and it seemed every turn was taken at a faster speed. In 58 seconds, it was over. We were all out of breath and happy that we survived. Never mind that our necks were a little weak from the ride, we were flying high.
Come to find out, our team won a gold medal for the fastest speed and a silver medal for the fastest time. They played the Olympic anthem as they gave us our medals during lunch at the museum. My neck was a little sore and my brains a little scrambled, but in the end it was totally worth it because now, in addition to our editorial prowess, SNEWS now has bobsledding expertise. Jamaica, you ain't seen nothin' yet!