Bobsleighing Like Olympians in Lillehammer

As Lillehammer continues to bask in the glow of its 1994 Winter Games, our courageous blogger makes the most of its bobsleighing facilities while reliving memories from Vancouver 2010

Credit: Richard Koss

Lori Henry plunges down Lillehammer’s 1994 bobsleigh track at 100 km/hour

I am told I will be plunging up to 100 km/hr down Lillehammer’s Olympic bobsleigh and luge track.

I nod my head in agreement but want to wet my pants in fear.

I’m sitting in a “wheelbob,” a rubber bobsleigh, at the Olympic Park in Lillehammer, Norway, about to jet down the official sliding track of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games.

Lillehammer Enjoying Afterglow of ’94 Winter Games

Lillehammer is still affectionately basking in the glory of its spotlight hosting the Olympics in ’94.

I know the feeling: when I saw thousands of strangers mingling on the streets of Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Games in February, I felt a sense of pride well up in my smile every time I met someone new. It’s still there when anyone asks me where I’m from.

Lillehammer Olympic Park

White sitting in the wheelbob with two other women behind me and the driver in front giving us instructions on how to survive the next few minutes, I wasn’t thinking about the warm and fuzzy feeling of welcoming the world to my city; I was looking for the courage the athletes in Whistler showed before thrusting themselves down the luge track – sometimes head first, those crazy skeleton racers! – and stepping off as medalists. (And local heroes: remember Jon Montgomery swigging his gold medal beer in Whistler Village? Or the women’s bobsleigh team dancing on stage with The Roots?)

My helmet is on tight, my hands white knuckling the bars at my legs, and my adrenaline is pumping. Our driver hops in casually and tells us she’ll see us at the bottom. She doesn’t mention if we’ll be getting a medal.

Plunging Down the Luge Track

As we are pushed onto the track and skim down into the first curve to the right, I feel a silly grin spreading across my face. But as we pick up speed on the next turn, and then the next, I leave my grin on the first curve as my face scrunches up into an Edvard Munch-style scream.

My helmet tries banging out a song on the cage surrounding the wheelbob (which I’m really not fond of) and it keeps shifting over my eyes so I can’t see where I’m going.

At some point one of us screams, but we otherwise survive in good spirits.

There are a few sore necks on the train in the morning, but it was all worth it: I can’t say that I’m an Olympic athlete, but I have definitely slid in their shoes.

Lori Henry is a travel & lifestyle writer based in Vancouver. She is currently writing a book about dancing her way across Canada.