Spectator without a view?
February 22, 2010 5:47 AM   Subscribe

What is it like to be a spectator at these outdoor Olympic sports like skiing or bobsled where you can only see the finish of the course?
posted by smackfu to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
I don't know much about bobsleigh but I've seen several World Cup downhills over the years and many more slalom and GS races.

For slalom and (mostly) for GS it's pretty straightforward - you can see much of the course from the bottom, so such views are pretty good. I'm not sure if they let spectators on the side of the course any more - probably not. When I used to race myself I never watched from the bottom - after my runs I'd always scope out a spot on the side of the course to watch the others.

For the DH and SuperG, there are designated spectator areas at several places on the course. So basically you pick one and hope you're there early enough to get a spot. I've seen a couple of races at Whistler from an area to the left of the course coming out of Toilet bowl. It looks like increased safety measures have decreased the accessibility for spectators.

The experience is pretty good - in fact unless you've seen a DH racer going full-out live it's difficult to comprehend how fast they're going and how icy the course is typically kept. Racers sound like jet planes going by. Based on what I've seen on TV they have big screens in the designated areas so you can see the rest of the race - I don't remember that from when I've seen races live (over a decade ago). I do remember watching the whole race on TV after it was over to get a more complete picture of what happened.

At Whiteface in 1980 you had to walk up, but you could watch the race from anywhere on the course as I recall.
posted by mikel at 6:49 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I was at Whistler last year during the World Cup, it was very, very hard to see anything along the course. This map shows how little of the course is open for viewing. I'm pretty sure you can't see much of the course besides the finish.

My sister went to the luge event a few days ago and you can go anywhere along that course. The athletes fly past, so you don't see a whole lot of them.
posted by yeti at 8:20 AM on February 22, 2010

It might be tangential, but the manual for construction and maintenance of the various Whistler racecourses is online. It goes into immense detail about each of the courses and how they are setup and so on.
posted by mmascolino at 8:35 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow - mmascolino that was probably the only map I didn't find to check my answer. Clearly there is a lot less access for spectators than there used to be.
posted by mikel at 8:10 PM on February 22, 2010

I was in the stands for men's skicross on Sunday, and it was about what I expected. We could see competitor's intermittently during the second half of the race, and had an excellent view of the last two jumps. However, everything else could only be viewed on the fairly big screen they had set up.

While perhaps not all that realistic (at least for the Olympics), I think you'd get a much better sense of the sport by being able to watch from right alongside the course, similar to what mikel said above.
posted by sinical at 9:29 PM on February 22, 2010

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