Monday, June 16, 2008


Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! With a forecast of 90 degrees for Salt Lake City today, we jumped in the Jeep and headed up into the mountains seeking out lower temperatures at higher elevation. We found not only refreshingly cooler temperatures, but something totally unexpected: the Utah Olympic Park.

What could be more fun than stumbling on a terrific spot you didn't even know existed? The Utah Olympic Park was one of the sites of the 2002 Winter Olympics, now an Olympic training center (for athletes and wannabes) and summer fun spot for non-athletes.

Aside from touring the inspiring museum, watching future olympians train, and hiking to the top of the mountain, we non-athletes can enjoy some thrills of our own: a 70 mph bobsled ride on a wheeled bobsled on the Olympic track, one of two lengths of ziplines, or the Alpine Slide.

We started with a self-guided walking tour, a long climb from the museum at the bottom of the mountain to the start of the bobsled track and the ski jumps at the top. We had the walk to ourselves - most visitors to the park come for the thrills, not the exercise!

At the end of a long walk, at top of the bobsled track, we talked with two of the sled drivers. After listening to them describe the toll the wild ride takes on their bodies, I decided that was not the thrill for me - I'd like to keep my spine intact. A photo op in the bobsled (top) was enough for us.

From there, we walked over to experience the view from the top of the Olympic ski jumps. I almost threw up just taking the photo!

Here I am getting in touch with my inner athlete. Why don't they ever look like this??

The ski lift that serves the jumps also serves the new Xtreme Zipline, billed as The World's Steepest Zipline, attaining speeds up to 50 mph. We walked the few steps over to watch a few of the zippers, but neither of us felt inclined to participate.

A few steps more brought us to the top of the Quicksilver Alpine Slide. Their description: "This European-style alpine slide is the first of its kind in North America. The state-of-the-art steel track allows riders to weave down a narrow course with 18 turns that concludes at the base of the K-64 ski jump. Riders on the Quicksilver can experience the same thrill as a luge, skeleton, or bobsled athlete." Oh - I thought that looked like fun.

Tickets are sold at the bottom of the hill, not the top. As we walked back down the mountain, the bobsleds had started running. Our path ran right next to the steep, slick, banked track, and we were able to stand within just a couple of feet as the sleds went screaming past. Wild!

The lighted timing boards marked the time, and an announcer announced the time and speed at each of the turns, just as if we were watching the winter Olympics. Great entertainment - and only the two of us there to see it.

Back at the bottom of the hill, we bought our tickets. This time, we hopped on the ski lift and had a relaxing ride up, up, up to the top. There we settled onto tiny "sleds", each with a lever that allows the rider to control (somewhat) the speed of the sled: push forward for more speed, pull back to brake.

I took this photo while I waited for the red light on the right side to turn green, which meant Odel had passed some critical point on the track. I pushed my lever forward and started sliding, kinda' slow at first so I pushed forward with more force. Wham - I took off!

The turns are sharply banked, and I chickened out on the speed, as did Odel... so we bought two more tickets and headed back to the top again. This time we both sped along with little braking. My soundtrack was a combination of screaming, squealing and laughing like crazy - what a blast. You can see Odel's big grin at the end of the ride, and the little sled!

At the bottom of the run, we chatted with a woman from Colorado Springs who was waiting for her kids to finish sliding and zipping. She told us that Keystone, South Dakota, where we will be in less than a week, has an alpine slide that she thought was even more fun. I'm ready to check it out.


  1. You know what, they really might look just like you do, Laurie, but, we can't tell because they are wearing their goggles, helmets and other stuff to cover their faces!

    Hugs, Sharon & Ron

  2. I LOVED your skiing picture!! What a fun day for you both!I wonder how some of those athletes will feel when they get out of bed in the morning when they're our age...


  3. That ski jump picture about made me lose my dinner! I could never stand there!