Participation

Published on February 13th, 2018 | by Ben Jefferies

Sledging in Oslo fuels then dampens the Beijing dream

With the 2018 Winter Games currently taking place Pyeongchang, now is the time to reveal my Olympic ambitions.

It’s a dream fuelled by Britain’s success on the slippery stuff in recent years, and underlined by a trip to the Norwegian capital Oslo to try my hand at sledging.

As an avid sports fan I’ve spent the vast majority of my life trying (and failing) at most sports, but I naively couldn’t help but think this could be the start of something special.

Unlike Norway, Great Britain doesn’t boast a rich heritage when it comes to competing in winter sports. For instance, the 2014 Sochi Olympics saw Team GB leave Russia with four medals – of which just one was gold.

However, despite the poor strike rate, in recent times the likes of Shelley Rudman, Amy Williams and Lizzy Yarnold won a silver followed by two gold medals in the skeleton bobsleigh event from 2006-2014.

Of course, I was going to continue the trend, by whizzing down the Korketrekkeren track – which translates to English as ‘The Corkscrew’ – before later taking up the sport and qualifying for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Freezing but sweating

It is 2km in length and has an elevation drop of 255m. The view looking down the course was somewhat intimidating, and my confidence soon evaporated.

I found that I was somehow sweating, despite the freezing cold -8C temperatures. I had become a barrel of nerves with sweaty palms and full of anxiety who no longer had dreams of making the 2022 Olympics.

All I wanted at that moment was to make it down unscathed.

I rather cautiously set off, gently dragging my feet along the snow as I approached the first bend, decreasing my speed to prevent my sledge from spinning out of control.

A couple more turns and I was experimenting the different ways of which to manoeuvre myself to take the bends at speed, and before long, somewhat prematurely, my improbable Olympic dream was back on again.

I hurtled around the next few bends as the thrilling pace continued to increase, shifting my bodyweight right and then left, I was now on the same wavelength as Lewis Hamilton, as I was beginning to picture the best possible racing lines.

Turbo-charged

Ben (left) celebrates surviving his icy ordeal

Just like my confidence at the start of the run, the wall to my left seemingly vanished halfway down leaving nothing but a rather severe drop.

I instantly and rather sensibly attempted to decelerate, until approaching a turn I hit a spot of black ice, which propelled the sledge forward causing it to feel as though it had suddenly become turbo-charged.

I lost all composure, the sledge was out of control and before I knew it – much to my relief – and much to the joy of my friend – I went flying into a snow bank on the right; causing him to burst into a fit of hysterical laughter.

I slowly rose to my feet covered head to toe in snow, and with my woollen gloves now soaked through It quickly became apparent that my ambitions of sledging at the highest level wasn’t to be.

So, for now, I think it’s best if I  withdraw my application for the skeleton bobsleigh team for Beijing. In the meantime, does anyone know when the curling try-outs are?

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