Air Force Athlete Flies Down a Tube of Ice
Imagine sliding down a mountain in a tube of ice. On your stomach. Face first. At about 80 miles an hour.
And being among the best in the world doing this adrenaline-filled sport.
Enter the world of Airman 1st Class Kelly Curtis, a member of Team USA in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.
Curtis competes through the Air Force World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). WCAP enables elite athletes to train and compete in top events while serving their country.
Athletes who compete in skeleton need explosive speed, full-body strength, and nerves of steel.
Imagine yourself at the top of the mountain, ready to start a skeleton run. Your sled is in the starting groove. When signaled, you explode off the starting block, bending low, and pushing with one hand. A few quick steps later, you jump onto the sled and adjust your position. It’s belly down, face first, feet dangling, and arms tucked at your sides. To steer, you shift body weight on different corners of the sled. During the run, your body experiences up to 5 Gs as you reach reach speeds up to 81 mph (130 km/h). When you get to the end of the run, there are no brakes on the sled. So you drag your feet and/or run into cushions to stop.
Airman 1st Class Kelly Curtis didn’t have to imagine those things. She lived them. At the 2022 Olympics, Curtis finished 21st…in the entire world. Congratulations!
Watch this YouTube video to get an idea of what it’s like to do a skeleton run on the Beijing track