Olympic fever hits the Fylde

WINTER Olympic fever has hit Blackpool!

Tourists are flocking to the Fylde coast to live the Olympic dream on the UK's only true bobsleigh ride.

Eager to experience the body-pounding descents they've seen on television, the number of tourists riding the Avalanche at Blackpool Pleasure Beach has doubled.

Some wild thrillseekers have even called to ask whether they can take their own luges or snowboards down the track.

A Pleasure Beach spokesman said: "We've had twice as many people wanting to go on the ride during the Winter Olympics – Avalanche is the closest thing you will ever get to riding a real bobsleigh run without hitting the slopes. A couple of people phoned asking if they could ride a luge down the track and one person called to see if they could snowboard down it!"

Rather than the Avalanche train's course being guided precisely by a track, it follows its own natural course giving a free-wheeling feeling at speeds of up to 45mph along the 1,160ft track.

With the white steel chute's twists, turns and curved banks, it's the closest adrenalin lovers will ever get to how the Great Britain team feel bombing down a frozen chute with 90-degree bends at 95mph.

A genuine bobsleigh used by the Great British team is on view at the Pleasure Beach to mark the opening of the Avalanche by Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards and the British Bobsleigh team in 1988.

With the popularity of the Avalanche and Blackpool Council's plans to build an indoor ski slope in Blackpool, it looks like winter sports could become the future for the seaside resort.

But for now, all eyes are on Britain bobsleigh pilot John Jackson and his crew members Henry Nwume, Dan Money and Allyn Condon who have two more runs on the chute tonight.

Jackson says he is determined not to dwell on the crash that ended his Olympic hopes in the two-man event and has been focused on the four-man competition which got under way yesterday.

One of the women's teams – Paula Walker and Kelly Thomas – came 11th,while the two-man team was disqualified after crashing.