The athletes of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation are unanimously awaiting Utah's new bobsled and luge run, currently under construction near Park City as part of the Winter Games Olympic Bid process.
Howard Lowry is president of the South-West Bobsled and Skeleton Club, the club with the largest number of bobsled athletes belonging to the national federation. He says, "We are waiting for the track to open in Utah so we can use that track to train. And the new bobsled run near Salt Lake will open up a whole new avenue for participation in the sport from the Midwest and West Coast."
Presently, the nation's only bobsled track is in Lake Placid, N.Y. Built in the 1930s and upgraded for the 1980 Winter Olympics, the facilities are somewhat dilapidated, according to Lowry. "The older Lake Placid facilities take a physical toll on the sleds, causing high equipment damage, stress fractures in the fiberglass and steel frames," says Lowry. A new bobsled costs about $15,000. When one of them breaks down and has to be repaired as quickly as possible, it has to be rebuilt within three months, because the Lake Placid track is only open for three months.
The South-West Bobsled Club operates on a volunteer basis to provide all equipment, financial support, and most of the coaching for the athletes in that region as well as the rest of the country. Now based in San Antonio, Texas, Lowry and the other athletes are anxious to move their headquarters and primary training programs to Utah. "There is no interest in the sport here in Texas," says Lowry. "The Utah track will be a world-class caliber combination track for bobsled and luge, much like the one in Calgary.
By relocating to Utah, the club hopes to attract new athletes to participate in the thrill of bobsledding, and to drum up financial support and donations of goods and services for the athletes. The club has applied for and received 501C-3 tax-exempt status. Lowry hopes that Utah businesses will demonstrate support for the bobsled club, such as making financial contributions, offering goods and services, and hiring the athletes to work part-time while training.
Jim Herberich, a member of the 1988 Olympic bobsled team who has lived in Boston for 28 years, is planning to move to Utah, partially because of the new bobsled...