2010 Winter Olympics: Orem's Shauna Rohbock thinks Whistler track 'stupid fast'
"We're pushing super slow and have our runners sanded at a stupid grit. ... It's stupid fast," Rohbock said while standing trackside with her brakeman, Michelle Rzepka, after two runs down Blackcomb Mountain.
Sanding runners a certain way can slow down bobsleds, and is not necessarily uncommon when conditions warrant. FIBT spokesman Don Krone said runners are always sanded to adjust to the conditions of any track.
"It's a fast and technical track, and I'm not going to respond to individual comments by athletes," Krone said. "It's abundantly clear that it's a technically challenging track. I think the skeleton competition the past few days showed that it's fast and challenging and makes for great racing and that's what the sport is about."
In early 2008, Rohbock was one of several top drivers invited by officials to test-drive at the track while it was being completed.
Even then, she said she believed problems could arise.
"We voiced that concern, and they just thought it would be OK," Rohbock said. "But I think now they are realizing that it's not going to be OK."
There was one crash during training Friday night when Esme Kamphuis of the Netherlands tipped over and slid through the final corners.
Despite her apprehensions of sliding down the track at 80-plus mph, Rohbock said she was still willing to compete on it.
"We are all aware of the dangers of the sport, but when somebody ends up dying it gives you pause," she said.
While Rohbock is an experienced driver, not everyone in the women's field is as familiar with the Whistler track.
Data released by the International Federation of Bobsleigh and Tobogganing shows that while top drivers like Rohbock and Germany's Sandra Kiriasis have nearly 40 runs apiece in Whistler, others have less than one-fifth that many.
Entering the start of formal training, Australian bobsledder Astrid Loch-Wilkinson has eight official runs down the track, while Ireland's Aoife Hoey had just six, according to the data.
In the men's event, Swiss driver Daniel Schmid withdrew Friday from the Olympic two-man and four-man bobsled competitions "for safety reasons" after two practice crashes.
A statement said the decision for him to drop out was made jointly between the Swiss team and bobsled officials.
Schmid, who has had previous problems on the track, overturned his sled during Friday's first training session. His brakeman, Juerg Egger, was injured and taken from the track in an ambulance, then transported by helicopter to Vancouver for observation.
Despite the speed and safety concerns of some competitors, others find the track exhilarating.
"We just went 145 km/hr...that's fast!!!," U.S. women's brakeman Elana Meyers said Friday night on Twitter, referring to the metric equivalent of 90 mph. "WOO HOO! Day 1 of training complete!"
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
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