Bobsled, skeleton or speed-skating?
Maybe your gang gets more excited about the jumps and twists snowboarders execute or watching ski racers bomb down the mountain.
This year, do a lot more than just watch the Olympians now that the Winter Games are under way in Sochi, Russia. Tap into the Olympic spirit right here at home. Take the opportunity to try an Olympic winter sport (think racing down an Olympic bobsled track) – or perfect your skill (skiing, snowboarding, skating) – at a place where Olympic athletes proved their mettle in Olympic competition.
In fact, if you head to Park City, Utah (www.visitparkcity.com), home to the 2002 Winter Games, three major ski resorts will offer you the chance to ski with a former Olympian. At the Canyons Resort (www.canyonsresort.com), if you sign on for First Tracks on Tuesday or Saturday mornings, former Olympians Holly Flanders or Kaylin Richardson may be among the group. Flanders also hosts special women’s clinics during the ski season. At Deer Valley Mountain Resort (www.deervalley.com) as many as eight of you can book former Olympian Heidi Voelker to show you her favorite secret stashes on the mountain (starting at $600 for a half day.) Look for special packages, like the fifth-night-free deal offered at Resorts West properties in Deer Valley and Park City.
There’s always the chance you’ll sit with a pro snow sports athlete on a chairlift. Many of the athletes live here and the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding teams train here year-round, less than a 40-minute drive from Salt Lake City.
Take a run down the slopes where Olympians competed. (If you like moguls, try Champion at Deer Valley; Deer Valley’s “Know You Don’t” was the slalom run.) Riders should head to the Eagle Superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort (www.parkcitymountain.com) where the men’s and women’s snowboard competitions were decided in 2002. The resort’s Kings Crown terrain park – designed for experts, since it has some of the resort’s biggest jumps – is where the Olympics’ first U.S. Freeski Olympic slopestyle team was decided.
Utah Olympic Park is also where your teens (as long as they’re 14) can try something they’ve likely never done – driving a Rocket Skeleton headfirst down the Olympic track. Take a Learn-to-Curl class before “Cosmic Curling” (think black light and neon). If you (or the kids) weigh at least 100 pounds, experience the “ride of your life,” as it’s billed, on the comet bobsled ride down the entire length of the Olympic track, reaching speeds up to 80 mph. No worries. The driver is a pro. (For details and prices, visit www.utaholympiclegacy.com.)
Utah too far? Travel to Lake Placid, host to the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Games. Last summer, we watched would-be Olympic ski jumpers train by jumping into pools. In winter, you can tube down a 700-foot chute at the Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex.
During the games, compete in some of the same winter sports being contested in Sochi with special chances to win prizes at Olympic sites, including bobsled, skeleton, biathlon, hockey, curling and speed and figure skating programs (www.lakeplacid.com/sochi-lake-placid).
Inspired by the Whiteface Lodge’s (www.thewhitefacelodge.com) employees who have trained for the Olympics, the Lake Placid, kid-friendly, all-suite resort is touting an Olympic Experience package that includes two sports massages (after your strenuous outdoor workout, of course – and Olympic Sites Passports that offer discounts to the Lake Placid Olympics venues.