WITS 2024 Salt Lake City: Women in Travel Summit, Part 2

Ready to find out what sport I tried for the first time during a tour at WITS? It took place in beautiful Park City, Utah, approximately 45 minutes uphill from Salt Lake City. Here's a hint. 

I grew up skiing, so it's definitely not that. Do these pictures help? The man shown, our guide for the afternoon at Utah Olympic Park, is Carl Roepke


Does any of this look familiar?

If you guessed that I tried bobsledding, congratulations! 

Here I am, posing in that stationary bobsled, excited for what was to come. The sled feels quite roomy when you're in it alone. 

Before trying out bobsledding for real, we had an excellent tour of the 2002 Olympic venue. My favorite part was standing here, in the starting gate for the ski jump. It looks even higher and more intimidating in person that it does on TV. 

I also loved seeing the training pool for freestyle skiing. The pool is currently frozen, but in the summer the athletes train by landing their tricks in the pool. The water is aerated to break the surface tension that would otherwise be quite painful. I really want to return in the summer to see the freestyle show! Incredibly, you can also buy a pass to try to try aerial skiing into a pool yourself. I will not be doing that. 

After an excellent tour, it was time for the bobsledding experience. I wasn't one bit nervous. In fact, I was so excited that I volunteered to go in the first group. We were instructed how to sit in the sled. Raise your shoulders as high as they go (that's what stops your head from flinging back and forth) and hold them there. Press your forearms firmly against the insides of the sled. 

We put on balaclavas...

... and then were fitted for helmets. It was hard to talk or hear once the helmet was on. 

Once outfitted, we loaded into our bobsled. First in, seated in the front, was our professional driver, Ryan, who would be steering. I was in the third position. It was ridiculously cramped in there - nothing like posing alone in the bobsled had been. Each person had to carefully position themselves up against the next person. We did this from a standstill and it was a challenge. Actual bobsled athletes do it from a run. I have no idea how. 

Once we were all loaded in, we got a running push and off we went.

Now that you've seen the birdseye view, check out how we looked during the ride.

So how did I like bobsledding? The first few turns were fine... even fun. And then the motion sickness kicked in, big time. I'll spare you the details, but it was not good. I hadn't expected the bobsled to make me so sick, but in retrospect... of course it did. I get sick on roller coasters. A bobsled is essentially a roller coaster. In our group of 15 who tried bobsledding, I was the only one to get sick. Two others said they'd never do it again because it was so scary, but the rest enjoyed the experience. 

The whole ride was less than 50 seconds, but it took another 5 minutes to unload us. I was doing everything I could not to throw up (again) before I could get out of the bobsled. I can't remember the last time I felt so sick.

I am so glad I rode in the first group, because it gave me quite a bit of time to recover while everyone else did their rides. But 30 minutes later, when it was time to get back on the bus for the short ride to the Alf Engen Ski Museum at the Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center, I still felt terrible. Two kind women walked down the hill with me so that I wouldn't have to get on the bus. The walk in the cool air helped.


Going into the museum, I felt fairly confident that I wouldn't throw up. Fortunately, I was correct. I felt queasy, but was able to enjoy the many interesting exhibits. 


I absolutely recommend a visit to Utah Olympic Park. There's something for everyone and the whole place is both interesting and beautiful. 

After the museum visit, I had no choice but to get back on the bus for the 45 minute return to Salt Lake City. I sat in the front and looked out the whole time instead of socializing with the rest of the group. That helped; I felt mostly better when we returned to the Marriott. 

Good thing, as I had dinner plans at Salt Stone with a group of mostly WITS first-timers. There were a lot of tempting choices on both the dinner and drink menus, but I stuck with a simple salad and water. 

It was a good choice. Not only was it tasty, but by the end of the meal, I felt 100% again. 

I really enjoyed the time with my new friends. So much so, that I let them talk me into making an appearance at the Bessie Awards just after dinner. The Bessie Awards, named for Bessie Coleman (affiliate link), honor women and gender-diverse people who have contributed unique voices and work to the travel industry. 

Why did I have to be talked into attending such a worthy event? Clothing. Because I came to WITS directly from the eclipse with just a single carry-on, I was very limited on what I could pack. I did not have room for a nice dress and shoes that I would only wear for 2 hours out of a 2 week trip. I had gone directly from bobsledding to dinner, with no time to change even if I'd brought nicer clothes.  

But the organizers had been clear: the event is dressy, but you're welcome to come as you feel comfortable. I appreciate that. Our underdressed group skipped the red carpet photos and went straight to a table in the back of the room. 

I'm glad I went and was able to learn about the amazing nominees and winners. Congratulations to all! 

It had been a really full day at WITS and I had an equally full day ahead of me. I'll tell you all about it on Monday. 

1 comment:

  1. This is so awesome! I did not know that such an adventure existed. Bummer on the queasiness. That is never fun.


I moderate comments, so you will not see yours appear right away. Please check back if you had a question; I promise to answer it as soon as I see it. Thank you for taking the time to comment!