YANQING, China – One by one, the toboggans glided through the curves at the National Skating Center, each covering nearly a mile of icy twist and turn in less than an adrenaline-stimulating minute.
But what went down – very quickly in this case – has to come back.
The return to the top of the Olympic sailing teams has been much slower. How it plays out is the story with a little laugh, a lot of sweat and of course the utmost interest. And then there’s the truck.
During Wednesday’s four-man training session, teammates lifted their sled off the track after first encountering heat, placing it on its side.
“It’s a very classic sport,” said Frank Del Duca, a 30-year-old US pilot. “We went down. We choose our sled. They weigh over 400 pounds.”
They carefully placed it on a flat path, similar to the ones used to move large furniture.
Next, they drove it to one of the waiting convoys of white trucks that resembled U-Haul trucks. (The sled is weighed first on competition days to ensure compliance.) A driver backed the truck to the edge of the platform, allowing the athletes to load their vehicle.
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Jimmy Reed, a US pusher, said: “We go up steep hills and sometimes they freeze and sometimes trucks get stuck and they’re trying to get up. “So if they are not strapped to the top of the truck, sometimes the sled can fall out. It happened. It didn’t happen here. ”
The trucks fit two teams of four. Rivals from different countries stacked on top of each other.
“We help each other,” said Del Duca. “There is a certain degree of danger. So we have a certain level of respect and camaraderie for each other.”
Some stood, clinging to the straps like on a subway train. Pilots often sit on toboggans, legs dangling outside the back of the truck.
Hunter Church, a 25-year-old US pilot, said: “There isn’t a country that I don’t think I can’t talk to. “Russia. Germany. Latvia is a bit quiet sometimes, but I’ll try and tell them some jokes.”
The truck went up a back road, turning around many turns of the track. Its raised back offers sweeping views of the snow-capped Xiaohaituo mountain area and the nearby Alpine ski center.
If they’re not talking to their competitors, the bobsledders are dissecting their recent activity.
“I have myself, I have my team and then I have my coach,” Church said. “It’s usually a big part of what we’re doing and then hyping each other up for a sequel.”
After a ride of about five minutes, the truck pulled back to the edge of the parc fermé, a secure staging area where toboggans were mobilized near the starting gate.
The athletes slid booties above their $300 before stepping out of the truck.
“We just try to protect the spikes as much as we can as we go around on cement and wood, so they stay as fresh and sharp as possible,” says Carlo Valdes of the USA.
Together, the athletes lifted the toboggan, placing it on top of another dolly. They escorted it to an area known as the ice box, a square iceberg, and placed it on its side for a minute.
In the past, sledding riders used torches to heat the runners, propellers in contact with the ice, reducing friction to help the sleds go faster.
Now, the temperature of all runners must stay within four degrees of the reference athlete’s exposure to the outside for at least an hour to meet Skating and Skating Federation regulations. Snow International. The ice box ensures that the temperature is within the allowable range.
“This makes everyone more equal and easier,” said Normunds Kotans, a Latvian ski sport expert with the Beijing Organizing Committee. “No one needs to think about it.”
Next, a national technical official cleans and wipes the runners to make sure no water gets on them.
Athletes can tinker and adjust runners on training days. During the warm-up period, they are not allowed to make any adjustments starting 45 minutes before the event begins.
Snowmobiles entering the assembly line for the final ride of the day are like planes ready to take a taxi. Some of the sleds were already stretching and warming, trying to stay warm in the 11-degree Fahrenheit weather.
“There are a lot of little things that you wouldn’t expect to need to do to create a facility and production as massive as this so that we can go,” said Josh Williamson, a US track and field athlete. and make a short trip.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/17/sports/olympics/bobsled-olympics.html The sled descends quickly. This is how they come back.