Utah Olympic Park Track

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Coordinates: 40°42′28″N 111°33′50″W / 40.70778°N 111.56389°W / 40.70778; -111.56389

Looking up at the track in the Utah Olympic Park

The Utah Olympic Park Track is a bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton track located in the Utah Olympic Park, near Park City, Utah, United States. During the 2002 Winter Olympics, held nearby in Salt Lake City, the track hosted the bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton events. Today the track still serves as a training center for Olympic and development level athletes, and hosts numerous local and international competitions.

History[edit]

The track as seen during the 2002 Winter Olympics

In 1989, Utah's voters passed the Olympic referendum, which allowed for tax payer money to be used to construct a winter sports park, which would include the track. The park would be used if Salt Lake City won its bid for either the 1998 or 2002 Winter Olympics, and following the games Olympic funds and revenue would then be used to repay the state. In 1990 the Utah Sports Authority announced their plans to build the park, which included ski jumps and a bobsled/luge track, in Bear Hollow near Park City.[1] The following year, on June 15, 1991, Salt Lake City lost its 1998 Winter Olympics bid by four votes to Nagano, Japan.[2] Still, construction on the park commenced following a groundbreaking ceremony on May 29, 1991. The original estimated cost of the park was $26.3 million and included the ski jumps, bobsled/luge track and a day lodge; following the completion of the ski jumps they were formally dedicated in a ceremony on January 9, 1993.[3]

A ceremony on June 3, 1994 signaled the start of construction on the bobsled/luge track.[4] The track was completed December 28, 1996 and its grand opening ceremony was held on January 25, 1997. The very first run on the new track was by luger Jon Owen on January 10, 1997.[5] Following the completion of the track it was decided to reintroduce skeleton as an Olympic event during the 2002 Winter Olympics and plans called to use the track to host all three sliding three events.

While construction was progressing on the track, Salt Lake City had won its 1995 bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics, and plans were developed to expand the park. On October 9, 1997 the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) okayed the plan to spend an additional $48 million to upgrade and expand the recently completed park. The plans called for the construction of starting houses on the track, chairlifts, storage buildings, and new access roads.[6] Ownership of the Park was transferred to SLOC from the Utah Sports Authority on July 14, 1999, and soon after the park's name was changed from the Utah Winter Sports Park to the Utah Olympic Park.

During the 2002 games, the track hosted 74,187 bobsleigh spectators, 14,860 skeleton spectators, and 64,104 luge spectators.[7]

Track technical details[edit]

Looking at bobsled/skeleton start and men's luge start

Costing about $25 million US$ to construct, the track uses 297,000 watts of track lighting, 62 water hydrants, 24 cameras, eight scoreboards, and 49 timing points.[8] Generally open from October to the end of March annually, the track takes a total of 18 days to ice down to the required thickness needed to run sliding events.[8] The track has 54 miles (87 km) of piping with 110,000 pounds (50,000 kg) of ammonia refrigeration able to keep the track to −14 °F (−26 °C).[8][9] During operating season, a nine-man crew smooths the track every day.[9] A total of 59 temperature probes are located throughout the track to ensure the ice temperature is properly monitored.[8] Throughout the track, a $1 million retractable shading system protects the course from sun and snow, which reduces energy usage by 25 percent and the need to clear the track from snow.[8]

Statistics[edit]

Team USA comes to a stop, finishing their third run during the 2002 Winter Olympics
The track as seen from the start of the men's single luge run
USA Luge Junior National Team Athlete, Matt Wolbach, slides through curve 6 during the "2010 Utah Winter Games"
Physical statistics
Sport[8] Length (meters) Turns Vertical drop (start to finish) Average grade (%)
Bobsleigh and skeleton 1335 15 103.5 7.80
Luge – men's singles 1316 17 106 8.10
Luge – women's singles/ men's doubles 1140 12 77 6.80
Turns
Turn number Name Reason named
4. Sunny corner Sunniest part of the track.
5. Snowy corner Snowiest part of the track.
6., 7., 8., 9., 10. Albert's alley
11. Wasatch After the Wasatch Range in Utah.
12. Olympic After the Winter Olympics.
14. Finish Curve After the curve before the finish straight and the actual finish curve of Turn 15.

The turn names were given by John Morgan during Speed Channel's World Cup bobsleigh coverage on December 17 and December 23, 2006.[10][11] All curves shown are bobsleigh curves. Men's singles' luge joins after turn two while women's singles and men's doubles luge joining after turn three. Turns 1, 2, 3, 13, and 15 do not have turn names. The section between curves 14 and 15 is the fastest, leading into a long finish straight that was referred by Morgan as the "Graveyard" section because you could lose both time and speed if you hit the walls leading to that turn.

Track records
Sport Record Nation – athlete(s) Date Time (seconds)
Bobsleigh – two-man[12] Start  CanadaJustin Kripps & Jesse Lumsden November 9, 2011 4.77
Bobsleigh – two-woman[13] Start  CanadaKaillie Humphries & Heather Moyse November 14, 2009 5.22
Luge – men's singles[14] Track Markus Prock Austria February 11, 2002 44.271
Luge – women's singles[14] Track Sylke Otto Germany February 13, 2002 42.940
Luge – men's doubles[14] Track  GermanyPatric Leitner & Alexander Resch February 15, 2002 42.953

Up until 2009, the track was considered the "World's Fastest Ice" and was where American luger Tony Benshoof set the highest recorded luge speed of 86.6 miles per hour (139.4 km/h) on October 16, 2001 that made the Guinness Book of World Records.[9][15] Benshoof's speed record was eclipsed by Germany's Felix Loch on February 21, 2009 at the 2008-09 Luge World Cup season finale at the Whistler Sliding Centre in British Columbia, Canada when Loch reached a top speed of 153.98 kilometres per hour (95.68 mph).[16]

Championships hosted[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joel Campbell (June 29, 1990). "Summit County likely will win Olympics Prize: A Sports Park". Deseret News. Retrieved December 26, 2010. 
  2. ^ Games Bids Inc. (2009). "Past Results". Retrieved December 26, 2010. 
  3. ^ Lisa Riley Roche (May 29, 1991). "Winter Sports Park gets underway". Deseret News. 
  4. ^ Lisa Riley Roche (June 4, 1994). "Hopes are high for 2002 at track groundbreaking". Deseret News. Retrieved December 26, 2010. 
  5. ^ Utah Athletic Foundation (2007). "Bobsled/Luge/Skeleton Track". Utah Athletic Foundation website. Retrieved December 26, 2010. 
  6. ^ Mike Gorrell (October 10, 1997). "Olympic Funds: the Vote, the Veto; Trustees Elect to Spend $48 million on Sports Park Upgrade". The Salt Lake Tribune. 
  7. ^ Salt Lake Organizing Committee (2002). Official Report of the XIX Olympic Winter Games. pp. 85–86. ISBN 0-9717961-0-6. Retrieved December 26, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Utah Athletic Foundation (2007). "Bobsled/Luge/Skeleton Track". Utah Athletic Foundation website. Retrieved December 26, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c "Ice". Modern Marvels. February 11, 2007.
  10. ^ "Park City Two-woman". Bobsleigh 2006–07 World Cup. December 17, 2006.
  11. ^ "Park City Two-man". Bobsleigh 2006–07 World Cup. December 23, 2006
  12. ^ Utah Olympic Park Track at the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing
  13. ^ Martini and Logsch take World Cup opener at the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (13 November 2009 news accessed November 14 2009.)
  14. ^ a b c USALuge.org tracks. – Click on Park City, Utah track and scroll down for track records on luge track records. Accessed January 31, 2008.
  15. ^ United States Olympic Committee profile of Tony Benshoof for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. – accessed January 30, 2008.
  16. ^ David Möller realizes his first victory of the season. at the Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course (22 February 2009 article accessed February 22 2009.)
  17. ^ FIL World Luge Championships men's single results since 1955

External links[edit]