POSTED: February 9th 2011

Annecy on right track and picking up speed -- at La Plagne, anyway

La Plagne . . . the mountain, the message and the media (in safety mode) / lake images
La Plagne . . . the mountain, the message and the media (in safety mode) / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE in Annecy / Sports Features Communications

ANNECY, Feb 09: First I was given a hair net. Next came a full-face helmet as if I were about to throw down the gauntlet to Valentino Rossi or Michael Schumacher.

“Ici, ici!” said an encouraging voice of officialdom, pointing me on to a narrow pathway of solid ice, towards a bobsleigh in which gaped the chasm of . . . one empty seat.


No turning back. No second thoughts. Too late.

I stepped down into the last seat, squeezed my legs into the side panels alongside the huddled, helmeted hopeful in front of me and grasped the handle straps as if my life depended on it.

Which it did.

Four of were thus strapped in and shuffled together at the mercy of the mountain and its ice chasm.

This was the top of the ice track at La Plagne, which could be hosting bobsleigh, luge and skeleton competition if Annecy succeeds in its newly-reorganised battle against the odds to win host rights to the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Commission visit

An IOC evaluation commission is currently inspecting Annecy’s proposals before flying on to PyeongChang next week then Munich at the end of the month.

The 11-strong commission visits La Plagne on Thursday. They will not, I understand, he offered the opportunity to step into the bob . . . feel the sudden loneliness, the gathering roar of the sleigh as it jolts down and forward – and in conscious knowledge that it lacks both steering and brakes.

Gunilla Lindberg and her team will not feel the hurricane rush of the self-generated acceleration and the G-forces of the sudden twisting and bumping as the bob turns sideways to fling itself suicidally around the sharpest bend.

They will not be catapulted down the shute, flying out of control, with only that helmet and 80mph acceleration offering their nose, eyes and mouth protection from the ice a few inches below.

After one of the longest yet most exhilarating 60 seconds imaginable, the bob twisted, banged the track walls, straightened and – for the first time – turned its nose upwards and slowed to a halt . . . then slid backwards down to the dismount.

Some of the Commission members know it all, of course, from their own careers. Now they are too valuable for Annecy’s bid team to risk them on such an exploit. After all, sport is a serious business.

But isn’t it supposed to be fun as well?

Keywords · Annecy 2018 · evaluation commission · IOC · Lindberg

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