Monday Nov 02, 2009
As part of our coverage of all things Sega, I’m very happy to pass along a story of one of the most intense experiences of my life – the Sega Olympic Winter Games Press Event. The event, which took place early last week, was an opportunity for some gaming press to come check out our two Olympic Winter Games themed titles, Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games and Vancouver 2010™ – the Official Videogame of the Olympic Winter Games, within the setting of an official Olympic Games training area in Park City, Utah.
As a bit of background, Utah hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 2002 and Park City adapted one of it’s existing snow parks to host two key events during the games, Bobsled and Ski Jump. The facility is still around today, hosting tournaments, qualifiers, and allowing athletes to start and train in both events. In fact, I was not aware until the trip that Utah is one of two bobsled tracks in the entire United States (the other in New York). The Utah Olympic Park is officially recognized as having highest elevated ski jumps and the fastest bobsled track in the world! And, we were going to experience both first hand in the form of zipline and an actual bobsled run!
“Don’t you dare beat my score mister…”
This event was one of the first times I’ve had a chance to play Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games and it really is a lot of fun, especially when you play alongside some competitive people. In preparing for the event, I got a taste of this in challenging our PR Manager, Tali Fischer, to some score attacks while were unlocked some events for play. Our game of choice? Figure Skating, which I gladly took on to prove my worth and hit a score so high she never beat it after that initial run. She may see it otherwise, but I write the blog, so I get to have the final word on it. So there.
“David Allen bet me $10 I wouldn’t do it, so yea, I’m not backing out!”
At this point I want to side track slightly and offer some thanks to Tali and one of our brand managers, David Allen, as they are a big reason I conquered my fear of heights and attempted this crazy zipline in the first place. Basically Tali, like me, is afraid of heights and David bet Tali that she wouldn’t do either event for a total sum of $10. This is a long running bet/counter-bet that’s been going between them and all the while Tali was totally nervous of the experience, but wasn’t going to back down. If she could do it, I could do it.
I am undeniably afraid of heights and as you can see from the photos, this was no joke. Tali was first to go and I nervously watched the outcome to prepare myself mentally. To give you a sense of the fear I was feeling, the actual set up was a bit nerve racking. The first stage is strapping in and you are forced to lean against a door, unable to see the ride down. Next, the ride operator pushes a button, the doors clang open, and you are faced with 1,500 feet of pure terror, or so it would seem as Tali screamed all.the.way.down. Eesh, I thought that was supposed to make me feel better.
When it was my turn, I nearly backed out before the button push, but it was too late. The result was pure exhilaration and not at all what I was expecting. The Zipline was basically a big slide, with no bottom, going 50mph, and hanging from a wire. Ok, so not much like a slide, but it certainly wasn’t the sudden drop I was fearing. Despite my initial fears going in, I went back and rode the zipline two more times after. Other people on the tour did the same, once they got over the their fear of strapping in and going for it.
“Steve, can you see into the future?”
Next up was bobsled, which as noted before is experienced on the fastest bobsled track in the world. The course takes less than a minute to complete, goes through fifteen turns and reaches speeds up to 90mph. Between this and zipline, most people were concerned about the zipline and the bobsled was expected to be just a fun ride. I think we all underestimated what we were getting into.
Steve Holcomb is our driver and guide to what will be an exhilarating ride down the course. Steve is part of Night Train, a four man team competing in the Olympic Winter Games and a past Gold medal winner in 2006. As driver, Steve is responsible for navigating the track along with his team at speeds up to 90mph. One of my own misconceptions of bobsled going in was that all members would be leaning to move the sled down the track, in reality each sledding team has a driver and three passengers to perform the running start and provide weight to sled going down. Luckily, this also means I won’t have to do much more than hold on for dear life.
After our extensive waiver signing and a thirty minute orientation, we are broken up into teams of three to assault the course and go for gold. What makes the bobsled arguably more intense than the zipline is the speed and force that you experience when flying down the track. As explained by our tour guides, once you hit the fourth curve, you are at max speed and hitting up to five g’s of pressure. That’s basically five times your body weight in pressure pushing down on you. Typing that in text is one thing, experiencing it is entirely another. As luck would have it, we managed to attach a camera to one of our riders and are thrilled to be able to show you the full ride!
“I have a new appreciation for the Olympics”
As a gamer, I get to vicariously live through the eyes of our characters and experience things I would never, ever see. For the Olympic Winter Games, this event has granted me a chance to gain a new appreciation for what the athletes experience on a daily basis and see that reflected in the games we are creating. From the competitive spirit of the games we play, to the events themselves, the Olympic Games truly are an amazing experience and something I hope everyone will enjoy.
Thanks for reading and look forward to any comments from the community, we also have a ton of other images from the event across our Flickr page, with some pretty exceptional views from atop the ski jump. Enjoy!
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