This undated photo provided by the Olympic Regional Development Authority shows  a person taking a skeleton ride at Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid, N.Y.  For $75, visitors on winter Saturdays can take a sled ride belly down, head first on a sled the size of a throw rug. While racers take running jumps onto their sleds and can exceed 80 mph, visitors are pushed off about halfway down the run and can hit 30 to 40 mph.  (AP Photo/Olympic Regional Development Authority)

This undated photo provided by the Olympic Regional Development Authority shows a person taking a skeleton ride at Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid, N.Y. For $75, visitors on winter Saturdays can take a sled ride belly down, head first on a sled the size of a throw rug. While racers take running jumps onto their sleds and can exceed 80 mph, visitors are pushed off about halfway down the run and can hit 30 to 40 mph. (AP Photo/Olympic Regional Development Authority)

On the wild slide: Lake Placid site offers skeleton rides

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Sledding can be pleasant and pastoral, with big toboggans, snowy hills and rosy cheeks. And then there’s skeleton sledding: belly down, head first on a sled the size of a throw rug, hard ice whooshing by your face.

The site of the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid offers the rare chance to try this lesser known sliding sport on its twisting sled run. For $75, visitors on winter Saturdays can take a skeleton ride on the wild slide. While racers take running jumps onto their sleds and can exceed 80 mph, visitors are pushed off about halfway down the run and can hit 30 to 40 mph.

Still, the 40 seconds zip by on the little sled.

“A lot faster than I thought it was going to be,” said Scott Hayes of Toronto. “You think, ‘Ah well, I mean it’s a public ride, how fast can it go?’ But it went really fast.”

Hayes was among more than a dozen thrill-seekers who showed up recently at the Olympic Sports Complex down the road from the village of Lake Placid. Riders were driven midway up the run and fitted for helmets and sleds, which are low to the ground and stretch from riders’ shoulders to knees.

Coach Rebecca Sorensen gave instructions: grab handles on side, elbows straight, shoulders down, the less you move the better.

“Hold on to the sled at all times,” Sorensen added, as if this would ever be an issue.

Then she pushed riders off. Gravity does the rest as the sleds snake through the U-shaped track. Riders are sort of like human missiles, able to lift their chins to see the upcoming twists closing in fast. One last turn and then a gentle upgrade slows the sleds down.

Sleds are trucked back up the hill for the next amateur. Riders work through their adrenaline rush. Jillian Frascoia of Richmond, Vermont, raised her arms and cheered after her run.

“It was so fast, much faster than I thought, much scarier than I thought,” she said. “It was great!”

Skeleton reportedly got its name from the “bony” appearance of early sleds from the late 19th century. Often eclipsed by bobsled and luge, skeleton returned to the Olympics in 2002 after a 54-year hiatus.

In fact, far more people show up later in the morning when the Olympic center switches to offering bobsled rides.

The bobsled riders get to climb into a more substantial sled with other passengers. And they get to sit. Last year, there were 10,917 bobsled rides at the complex, versus 1,166 skeleton rides.

The bobsled crowd seems more family oriented. Skeleton riders seem to like their thrills closer to the bone.

“You can go tobogganing or sledding and it’s not the same thing,” said Karen Lonnstrom of Voorheesville, New York, “so this will be a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience.”

More in Life

File
Minister’s Message: What unites? Being one in Christ

It seems everywhere you look and on every level people are gridlocked

The secret to this homemade vegetarian lasagna is the addition of fresh noodles from scratch. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: The secret’s in the noodles

Handmade pasta adds layers of flavor to vegetable lasagna

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Downtime

Now here we are, two-thirds of the way through the longest month of the year

Robert “Bob” Huttle, posing here next to Cliff House, spent the night in this cabin in April 1934 and mused about a possible murder there. (Photo courtesy of the Huttle Collection)
Twists and turns in the history of Cliff House — Part 2

How much of the doctor’s actions Bob Huttle knew when he stayed in Cliff House 10 years later is difficult to know.

Achieving the crispy, flaky layers of golden goodness of a croissant require precision and skill. (Photo by Tresa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Reaching the pinnacle of patisserie

Croissants take precision and skill, but the results can be delightful

This 1940s-era image is one of few early photographs of Cliff House, which once stood near the head of Tustumena Lake. (Photo courtesy of the Secora Collection)
Twists and turns in the history of Cliff House — Part 1

Here, then, is the story of Cliff House, as least as I know it now.

File
Minister’s Message: What’s in a name?

The Scriptures advise, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”

Visitors put on personal protective equipment before an artist talk by Dr. Sami Ali' at the Jan. 7, 2022, First Friday opening of her exhibit, "The Mind of a Healthcare Worker During the COVID-19 Pandemic," at the Homer Council on the Arts in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
ER doctor’s paintings follow passage of pandemic

Dr. Sami Ali made 2019 resolution to paint every day — and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Almond flour adds a nuttiness to this carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: A ‘perfect day’ cake

Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting make for a truly delicious day off

File
Minister’s Message: A prayer pulled from the ashes

“In that beleaguered and beautiful land, the prayer endures.”

A copy of “The Year of Magical Thinking” by author Joan Didion is displayed on an e-reader. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Didion’s “Year of Magical Thinking” is a timely study on grief

‘The last week of 2021 felt like a good time to pick up one of her books.’