Drivers wanted at UOP
For anyone looking for the ultimate thrill ride, look no further than the Stephan Bosch Bobsled Driving School at the Utah Olympic Park (UOP). Starting in January, the 2002 Olympic venue will offer the program in one, two or four-day packages.
"It’s going to be really exciting for people to steer a bobsled," said Bosch. UOP public relations manager Jennifer Nichols says that the camp is attractive to the same type of crowd that dreams of taking a lap or two around a NASCAR track or racing through the streets of Italy in a Ferrari.
"It’s that kind of group," Nichols said. "People into the ultimate driving experience."
Driving down an icing ramp might sound like too much for some, but according to Bosch, learning to drive from a lower starting place is not that daunting, Bosch starts with runs from the junior start and eventually moves them up to the bull nose area — where the luge and bobsled tracks meet up. The learning starts in the classroom where Bosch shows videos about the history of the sport as well as a video of crashes so potential drivers can absorb the history and nature of the sport. After covering the basics, the soon-to be-drivers take to the track. Bosch discusses the mechanics of the bobsled and then sends everyone up the track, so he can show everyone how to attack each curve. Then they take two or three runs down the track and talk about the experience afterwards.
For those that sign up for multiple-day classes the process continues. Each day starts with a track walk, followed by a few runs and a meeting. On the third day, Bosch takes his class up to the bull nose start. He also shows them how to prepare a sled before an official race. The fourth day is filled with timed races and awards.
After each run, Bosch will often talk to the driver trainees on the phone and explain to them where improvements need to be made. He watches all of the runs from the UOP tower, where he can watch the entire run on the cameras and see how the each curve and line is being attacked.
The extreme camp can even turn into a path to competition for some. Bosch says the ideal candidate for bobsled in any position, whether a driver or a push athlete riding behind the driver, is strong, athletic and fast on their feet. A good driver, though, has a little more talent. After a few runs, Bosch starts to get an idea if a person can drive well. Those with the desire and the skill for competitive racing are referred to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (USBSF) development program also ran at the UOP track.
Many of pilots on the World Cup circuit began as push athletes, but felt they could make the jump to driving. Bosch says that drivers must be able to find the fastest line down the track and be able to steer only when necessary in order to maintain speed.
"You want to steer in the right moment so the sled goes faster and faster," Bosch said. "Some people have it and some people don’t," said Bosch. Often what’s stops people is the speed of the bobsled and the number of things the driver must concentrate on in a short amount of time.
Bosch warns that even adventurers with a wild side and need for speed must be in good physical condition. The speed and propulsion of the sled means that anyone with head, neck, back, heart, kidney problems or who has had recent surgery should not participate. A physical is required for the four-day camp.
Bosch is one of the most accomplished drivers at the track. Besides, teaching the school, he is also a driver for The Comet, the UOP’s passenger bobsled rides and has worked with the NAC and USBSF development programs. He got his start in bobsled as a youngster when he took a passenger ride in his home country of Germany. The next year he began driving in Austria. Since then, he has won four Junior World Championships, numerous Europa Cup races and finished third in World Cup for Germany. Since coming to the U.S. he has dominated on the America’s Cup circuit and hopes to compete in the Olympics once he establishes U.S. citizenship. He currently has an opportunity to compete in this year’s World Cup competition in Europe if he can find a sponsor in the very near future that would help him finance some of the $15,000 ticket for transporting his team and his sled to Europe. He also wants to find sponsorship to purchase a two-man sled in the spring. Anyone interested in sponsorship can contact Bosch at (801) 391-2255 or at stephan.bosch
The bobsled driving school will be held from Tuesday, Jan. 31 through March 21. The one-day camp starts on Tuesday and the longer classes run through the rest of the week. All participants must be over 18 and in good overall health. The one-day bobsled driving camp is $1,000, the two-day camp is $1,750 and the four-day camp is $3,000 and a catered lunch is served each day of the camp. Space is limited to six participants per school. Nichols says that date and class size accommodations can be made for private or corporate groups. For more information or to make reservations, call 658-4206.
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