Beyond the Ski Slopes
Utah Offers Plenty to Stomp Out Winter Boredom
Adrianne Lee Krier
January 15, 2009
How many of Utah’s fun winter activities can you name? If it’s just skiing, skiing and more skiing—with a little snowboarding thrown in for good measure—think again. There are at least as many fun things to do in Utah during the winter as in the summer. Here’s a look at how you can enjoy Utah’s winter wonderland beyond hitting the slopes.
During the winter in Utah, sliding is to be expected. Sometimes it’s even deliberate. At the Olympic Park you can experience more than one way to slide down a track: Luge (one or two people lying on their backs); skeleton (one person lying on his or her stomach); or the thrilling bobsled (carries two or four people). There are only two places in the United States where you can ride a bobsled. One is in New York, the other at Utah’s Olympic Park.
Carl Roepke, Olympic Park host and Olympic announcer in sliding sports, remembers his first ride in a bobsled. “[I] climbed into a bare bones sled. There were no pads, no seat belts, no cage…it was a real racing bobsled,” he says. “It starts by sliding down hill [and] in 30 seconds it’s going 75 miles per hour. It has brakes but they’re only applied at the finish line!”
Riding a bobsled is a never-to-be-forgotten experience, according to Roepke. Riders must be at least 16 years old and they must wear helmets. The 13-foot sled travels a 1,330 meter track (8/10 of a mile) with 15 corners at 80+ mph speeds. The rider will draw up to four Gs during the 50-second thrill ride.
A Trip with Man’s Best Friend
Dog sledding isn’t just a pastime for Alaskans. Utahns can experience a howling ride at Park City’s Stein Erikson Lodge. Suzy Gunderson, concierge of the lodge, says that dog sledding is a unique way to get children and adults outdoors during winter months. Though she admits her first experience was a little chaotic, dog sledding is now a favorite way to spend a winter afternoon. “The dogs were [absolutely] non-threatening and friendly,” she says. “And they all barked and howled at the same time because they were so excited!”
The sleds are pulled by five two-dog teams and are big enough to hold two adults and one child or one adult and two children. Each sled is controlled by a “musher” who holds the reins in his hands and stands behind the sled on the runners that protrude from the back. From that vantage point he controls the dogs with verbal commands and through appropriate tugs on the reins, as if he were guiding a horse. Gunderson says to come prepared for a wild ride echoed with the barks, yelps and howls of ten very excited canines.