The rush of bobsledding and the thrill of luge. If you’re feeling swept away by the athleticism and drama of the recent Winter Olympics, head to a mountain (or rink or icy skeleton track) and see if you’ve got what it takes.
At Utah Olympic Park, you can bobsled like it’s 2002 — the year that this facility in Park City hosted combined events of bobsled, skeleton, luge and Nordic skiing during the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Now, it is an official U.S. Olympic training site that also offers lessons to the public.
In the winter, wannabe bobsledders can rocket down the track at speeds of more than 60 miles per hour while a professional driver handles the steering (and braking). Throughout the season, you can spot Olympic athletes here flying through the air as they practice their aerial and Nordic jumps. When they’re not using the jump, it opens up to adrenaline-junkie tubers. About 35 miles west of Park City is another venue built for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games: at Utah Olympic Oval, aspiring Mirai Nagasus can learn to figure skate, speed skate, play hockey and curl.
The Waldorf Astoria Park City, Utah — which has its own dedicated chairlift with heated seats to keep you warm on your way up the mountain — is offering Winter Games-inspired packages. Its “Winter Games concierge” can help visitors plan activities such as curling, and can connect guests with former Olympians, such as freestyle skier Nate Roberts, for skiing and bobsledding lessons and city tours.
Home to the Winter Olympics not once, but twice (in 1932 and 1980), Lake Placid, N.Y., continues to draw thrill seekers to the Adirondack Mountains. At the Olympics Sports Complex, speed demons relish the thrill of the bobsled as passengers behind a professional driver with the Lake Placid Bobsled Experience on Mount Van Hoevenberg. Feeling brave? Go solo on the Lake Placid Skeleton Experience, hurtling along slick ice on a tiny sled, hitting up to 30 mph. There’s also skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, biathlon and more. .
The Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, which is in a state park on the shore of Lake Michigan in the town of Muskegon, Mich., gives beginners a run for their money. The luge track, which was designed by three-time Olympian Frank Masley, was built to introduce the general public to the sport. While Olympic lugers may hit in the 70- and 80-mph ranges on pro tracks, lugers on this track get up to about 30 mph.
The facility regularly hosts public luge clinics to train people ages 8 and up on techniques and safety (lest you think it’s all child’s play, proof of health insurance and a signed waiver are required). For non-lugers, there are miles of lighted cross-country ski trails, snowshoe trails through snow-covered sand dunes, sledding and ice skating.
Maybe you couldn’t travel to Pyeongchang this year, but you can still get your own Olympics on by planning a trip to the nearest ski mountain, ice rink or curling club.
Let the games begin.