Sled Race at Wildkogel | The 14 km Toboggan Run in Bramberg Austria | Quirky Customs
01
February

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /


Spanning 14 kilometres, this sled run in Austria
is one of the world’s longest and plays host to a unique race. My mission, as always: take part as a complete
novice! Anyone can enter in the race but this event
attracts the best tobogganists, who face off on the impressive piste. Everyone will make it down; it’s just a
question of how and when. It takes
place in the Austrian town of Bramberg, or rather on the Wildkogel mountain. I’ve arrived a day early in order to get
in a test run with a hired sled. Kasper is kitting me out with the right equipment. Helmets are optional but definitely a good
idea. In
contrast to skiing, there’s no special training. I’ve taken the last gondola lift up. Now, there is just one way down. This late in the day, the piste is icy and
full of bumps and trenches… but I’m not left to my own devices. Roman Kohl is a passionate tobogganist and
a leading authority when it comes to sled runs. I’ve got a few questions and bruises after
my first bumpy ride. Easier said than done…
Roman accompanies me down the now dark piste. Luckily, it’s lit but it is quite hard to
see and the conditions are very poor. It takes me a long time to get down. But I’ve had my first taste ahead of tomorrow’s
race. I’m up bright and early to register and
get ready for the race. Over night, the piste has been flattened and
should be good as new. My mentor Roman will also be taking part and
joins me on my way up to the starting line. He’s certainly more confident than I am. That is seriously fast… The view from up here is daunting. Last night’s run didn’t fill me with confidence
but it’s time to say goodbye vertigo, hello snow! But it seems like I’m the only person concerned,
as the other participants – young and old – are looking forward to the breakneck speeds. Before I’m off, I’ll get a quick crash
course on how to brake and steer. Over one hundred people are racing against
the clock. The race is underway. Every 30 seconds a competitor takes off. Starting at number 61, I’m right in the
thick of it. Der Schnee ist ideal, kaum Huckel auf der
Strecke. Und ohne viel Anstrengung werde ich sofort
ziemlich schnell. Lenken und Bremsen ist für mich als ungeübter
Fahrer noch ziemlich anstrengend. Und 14 Kilometer ist eine lange Strecke. Den Ehrgeiz Erster zu werden, habe ich ohnehin
nicht. Ich gönne mir `ne kurze Pause, lasse andere
überholen. The conditions today are great! Barely a bump in sight. And I’m starting to pick up some real pace,
much sooner than I thought. I can brake and I’m slowly starting to trust
my steering skills. My newfound confidence has allowed me to speed
up considerably and actually enjoy the stunning views and adrenalin rush. I’m actually having fun and understand why
so many people are flocking to sled runs in winter. In the end, pretty much everyone was faster
than me. The winner needed just 14 minutes for 14 kilometers. My time was about double that. Now, I’ve set my sights on another winter
adventure…


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