Cool Runnings in St. Moritz — the Most Fun You Can Have on Ice
I spent New Year’s Eve in St. Moritz — which is weird for me. I don’t like cold weather, I’m not an especially gifted skier (read: awkward-as-heck skier), and starting the new year off in a town full of famously wealthy people didn’t really do it for me. I had visions of that scene in Dumb and Dumber when Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels go to Aspen all kitted out… and fit right in. But, a bunch of my friends I’d met in Afghanistan the year before were all convening for a ski race in St. Moritz to benefit the Afghan Ski Challenge and I missed them. So I booked a ticket and thought, “Now what?”
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With Florence, Henrietta, and Beatrice as the bobs run by. (Photo: Paula Froelich)
And then my pal Beatrice told me about bobsledding.
“The Swiss championships are on right now— let’s go!” Beatrice said.
“Absolutely,” I agreed.
“And then you can go for a ride,” she said. “It will be the best two-and-a-half minutes of your life — if you don’t die."
"Don’t worry,” she assured me, it will probably be fine. Just try to keep your head up so you can see when you turn the bends and enter the horseshoe [the bend where you go full vertical]. It’s a bit difficult with the g-force.“
So we tramped over to the Olympia Bob Run — which has been in operation since 1904 and is the only natural ice run in the world, meaning every year the club hires people to carve the ice run, which must be done with precision as even the slightest fault means death as you hurtle 90 mph down the icy slope. Or at the very least, a lot of broken bones.
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The manager of the Olympia Bob Run, Damian Gianola, was a good friend of Beatrice’s — which is fortunate, as guests can book rides, but they book out fast so, if you’re going to the area, call ahead. Damian got me a seat on the last run of the day and suited me up:
Step One: Put on your face mask. Yes, it looks like I’m about to rob a store. No, I did not.
Step Two: Pick a helmet.
Step Three: Find your bobsled. Yes, I did it in leather pants and heels. That’s just how I roll.
Step Four: Point out ow hot your driver is.
Step Five: Scream your head off as you speed down the mountain (see video at top).
Go to the Horseshoe Tavern, which sits right outside the horseshoe bend, for some celebratory drinks where a guy named Money yodels and plays Neil Diamond and you can dance with a porcelain pig.
So — yeah. If you’re in St. Moritz, forget skiing: go bobsledding. It’s what all the cool kids do.
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