La Plagne’s bobsleigh track was built for the 1992 Albertville winter Olympic games. Bruno Thomas, the “big boss” and former champion, invited us to take a look behind the scenes, at the places the public does not see.
The bobsleigh track is in La Roche, a former mining village, where the miners already used to race on a natural track. Bruno Thomas is waiting for us at the top of the timing tower, at the bottom of the track at bend no. 18.
Rising up like a watchtower, the timing room offers a great view of the Olympic track with its 19 bends and 1507 metres timed length. Only the timer and the jury are allowed inside this room during competitions. A wall of video images makes it possible to monitor the 28 cameras along the descent. Another workstation has access to the timing and classification software. As head of operations, the timekeeper is also responsible for safety and must ensure that only one bob is on the track at any time.
In the bowels of the track
Before the season, up to 30 people work to prepare the ice (then a team of 20 during the winter season). The track’s nerve centre is under bend 19. We go through different areas: a storage area, the staff changing room (with ice planes on top of the lockers), a workshop where the 20 or so machines used for the commercial operation are maintained. Things start to get serious when we reach the electrical room with its power supply of 20 000 volts, where we can hear the hum of the 4 transformers.
The 70 sections of the track are controlled individually from an office just next to the machine room. 70 km of pipes buried in the concrete are fed by 3 tanks of glycol water. This mixture (water and anti-freeze) is distributed through a compressor at -6° to cool the concrete, then water is sprayed onto it and turns into ice. It is then over to the ice specialists for the meticulous task of making the ice as smooth as possible. A routing system makes it possible to feed selected segments and, once the concrete has reached the right temperature, the glycol water comes back down to be cooled again.
What is the temperature of the ice?
The ice on the track is maintained at -0.5C at the surface. This is the temperature that uses the least energy whilst keeping the ice stable and solid.
Since the Olympics, the track has hosted an international event almost every year: the Junior Luge World Cup, the Para-Bob World Cup, the bobsleigh World Cup, etc. The general public can also try going down the track. Depending on the level of thrill you are after, you can enjoy a 4-person descent in a Bob Raft at 80 km/h (from 11 years old and 1m30), a solo ride in a Speed Luge at 90 km/h or try Bob Racing, driven by a pilot
in a competition-style bob to feel the effect of 3G of pressure at 120km/h.
✨ Live the olympic experience, informations & booking
NEW - Team building in La Plagne with BOB INCENTIVE
The new "BOB INCENTIVE" concept launched by the Carpe Minute agency was born from the desire to diversify the business tourism offer in La Plagne. It is an exclusive offer to pilot a bob for companies.
✨ Federate your teams around a unique sport, more information on the Bob Incentive