Bobsled and Skeleton World Cup events kick off on Thursday
Circuit returns to Park City for the first time since 2017
For the first time since 2017, the Utah Olympic Park will host World Cup bobsled and skeleton events from Thursday through Saturday.
The action begins on Thursday with men’s and women’s skeleton. The two-man bobsled and women’s monobob events will be on Friday, and the four-man and two-women bobsled events will be on Saturday. Admission is free. For the full schedule and more information, see utaholympiclegacy.org or ibsf.org.
It’s been a long time coming for Park City to host the World Cup again. Park City was poised to host in 2019, but it had to be moved to Lake Placid due to a refrigeration issue. North America wouldn’t host World Cup bobsled and skeleton events after 2019 again until this past weekend in Whistler, Canada, after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s great to be back on the schedule,” said Calum Clark, chief operating officer of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation. “We have been patiently waiting for the world to correct itself after the pandemic, obviously. We lost two World Cups due to the international travel restrictions due to the COVID pandemic. So, we’re very, very pleased to be back on the international schedule here and be welcoming the world.”
But it was only a matter of time until sliding sports returned to the UOP again at the World Cup level. In addition to this week’s festivities, Park City will host a luge World Cup on Dec. 16 and Dec. 17.
“We knew in time that we’d be back on the world schedule, but we needed to be patient,” Clark said. “We are back on the schedule, this is a great time of the year for us, early season. The team is very excited to be back doing this stuff.”
Clark pointed out that it’s a unique event. Park City has one of just two bobsled/skeleton tracks in the country, and the spectator experience is different compared to more traditional sporting events. Spectators will be in the bottom three turns of the track, where the sleds will hit their highest speeds.
“For skeleton, to see these athletes moving at 80 miles an hour face-first, trying to develop as much speed as possible and being able to hold their race lines, and it’s feet away from your face,” Clark said. “These athletes go right in front of you. That’s a unique experience. And then when you get to the bobsled, the women and men, the rumble of those machines as they hurtle down the track, it’s like a freight train coming at you.”
There have been a few improvements at the track as well.
“Since 2019, we’ve had a three-year program to update and invest into a whole bunch of systems on the bobsled track,” Clark said. “We have a state-of-the-art refrigeration control system now, so dialing that in to ensure that we’ve got that magic temperature so that we’re delivering hard, but fast ice has been a process. Even little things, we’ve recently replaced our sound system on the bobsled track. At first, when we turned that thing on, I think the folks in Kamas could hear because the sound was so much louder than we were expecting.”
American bobsledder and Olympian Frank Del Duca is looking forward to racing on home soil. Del Duca is coming off a 10th-place finish in two-man bobsled and an eighth-place finish in four-man during the World Cup’s first stop in Whistler.
“It’s exciting having multiple North American tracks on the World Cup calendar,” he said via USA Bobsled/Skeleton. “Park City is a beautiful venue, a fun track and home ice. Whistler was going well until it didn’t, but it’s something to learn and grow from. I’m eager to race again with the guys and see what we can do together here in Park City.”
The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games by late January had reached what are known as venue-use agreements with two-thirds of the potential competition venues to host sporting events if a Games is awarded.
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