ALBERTVILLE, FRANCE — TO learn what it's like to race a sled at breakneck speed, the Monitor interviewed Bob Storey, vice president of the international bobsled federation and a former coach and driver of the Canadian Olympic team from 1968-'76. Some excerpts:
Can you describe the experience?
I don't think you can directly compare it to anything else. I've flown with demonstration aerobatic teams, ridden roller coasters, and done skydiving. There are elements of thrill to all those things, but it's different. There's the thrill of the force of power, the thrill of the speed, the sense of accomplishment and elation at the bottom - a big, combined package mixed in with the competitive element. But like most things of this nature, it's not easily explained.
Are you aware of how well you're doing as you go down a bob track?
Drivers know exactly where they've lost hundredths of seconds. You can feel what the sled is doing. You can feel when you're taking full advantage of the pressure and the fall of the mountain.
Is it easier to drive curves or straights?
Neither one is harder. The hard thing is to find a continuous "line" through 19 curves [here at the Albertville Olympics] and the straightaways in between. It's the team that makes the fewest mistakes that does the best.
Do you notice the people along the track?
No, because when you're driving a sled, your concentration is fully expended on the track itself. Things generally go in slow motion because you are totally focused. When you think back, you might then be aware that there were spectators.
Is the technology of the sleds a factor?
No. The sleds are all of a standard design.