A ride with the world's best bobsled driver

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PARK CITY -- Steve Holcomb will be going for the gold Saturday with his four-man bobsled, the Night Train. Though I would never ride in a bobsled down that Whistler track someone talked me into going down at Utah Olympic Park. Riding shotgun with Holcomb, I thought I'd be OK.

"It's like a roller coaster, but it really isn't," Holcomb said.

Orem's Shauna Rohbock, the 2006 Olympic silver medal driver, described it this way: "A bobsled ride is like being put in a garbage can and kicked off this hill. Like, that's what it's gonna feel like."

"It's like a car wreck. You don't know what's going on until it's over. It's like, what just happened?" Holcomb said.

My 55 seconds of terror began with an official explaining it would be either the worst thing I've ever experienced or the best, but by the time I'd know, it would be too late to stop.

"It is possible to be hurt on this ride. We'll be as straight forward as we can be. This is an extreme sport," the official said.

After signing three release forms, I packed in behind the best driver in the world: Park City's Steve Holcomb.

Of course, Rohbock had already had already amped my anxiety an hour earlier. When I asked her what the worst result she knew of was, she said, "My sister, she herniated a disk. Yeah, she came down. They had to pull her out on a stretcher. Is it bad that I tell you that? You a little nervous?"

But with a mini cam taped to my helmet and another added to the front of the sled, there was added pressure to produce on this and there was no way I could back out. Even though the thought did cross my mind, there was no turning back.

"First few curves, you're gonna be like, ‘Oh this isn't so bad.' Curve four's gonna hit and you'll be like, ‘Oh my gosh, is this over yet?'" Rohbock warned.

"It's just sensory overload. You're going extremely fast, pulling five or six Gs, the sled's going back and forth," Holcomb said.

As the run finished, I described it as "indescribably unbelievable and cool ... everybody should do it."

So, if you're looking for a gift for someone who has everything, the folks at Utah Olympic Park can make that exhilarating ride happen.

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Tom Kirkland


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