Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Aerodynamics Spell Difference between Winning and Luging

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Aerodynamics Spell Difference between Winning and Luging

Article excerpt

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, the following column fails to mention Tonya Harding. We are working on this and will correct it as soon as possible.)

I will admit that I was scared.

My body was crammed uncomfortably inside the unforgiving, spartan, cold-metal fuselage of a two-man Olympic bobsled. My hands were clutching at two handles attached to ropes that were supposed to steer this fiendish machine, which can reach speeds of up to 90 mph as it hurtles down the bobsled-and-luge track, a huge, menacing, surreal, snakelike sculpture of ice and concrete.

"Scared" is not really the word for how I felt. I was terrified. Only one thing kept me from losing control and screaming hysterically. That was the knowledge that this particular bobsled was not, technically, hurtling down the bobsled run. It was sitting motionless on a level surface next to the bobsled-storage shed. So I was unlikely to crash. But I still didn't like it.

"Hey!" I said. "I'm stuck in here!"

"It's not real comfortable," agreed Greg Sebald, helping me climb out. Greg is the driver of this bobsled. He's a 30-year-old patent attorney from Minneapolis, but he's representing Greece in the Olympics. He can do this because (a) His mother is Greek, so he has dual citizenship; and (b) "Minneapolis" is a Greek name (it means, "City with a Greek name").

Greg has been a bobsled driver for only two years. One day he just decided to do it, so - I am not making this up - he enrolled in bobsled-driving school, where he got a bobsled license.

(I don't know what happens if you go down the bobsled run without a license. Perhaps you get pulled over by the Bobsled Police.)

Then he contacted the Greek Olympic Committee and arranged to represent Greece, which is not a major bobsled power. Greg is driving a rental bobsled.

"We had to give them a damage deposit," he told me.

I asked him if he gets scared.

"I'm scared every time," he said. "I'm especially worried that, one of these days, I'm going to open my eyes."

You have to admire this attitude. …

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