Shandana A. Durrani
From the Print Edition:
Steve Wynn, Jan/Feb 03
It's 28 degrees outside and a blizzard has piled your driveway, walkway and sloping backyard with snow. Most adults would groan at thoughts of backbreaking shoveling. But you have a 12-year-old lurking inside you who wonders what could be more thrilling than careening down the hill at high speed on a sled.
But what if it's sunny and 70 degrees and the hill still beckons? The Thrill Sled, a high-tech sleigh that converts from ski struts to wheels in 20 minutes, is a four-season recreational vehicle that gives you no excuse to stifle your inner child.
Yesteryear's plastic toboggan or red metal-and-wood sleds seem positively medieval next to the ultimate slope ride created by partners Frederic Way and Steve Walton. The 50-pound consumer model Thrill Sled is built of lightweight, impact-resistant composite fiberglass and features hydraulic brakes, ball-bearing steering, independent suspension, high-speed precision wheel bearings and aerodynamic fenders. (The consumer model sells for $1,500, the 95-pound industrial sled for $3,000.)
The sled's inspiration came during a dearth of snow one winter in their native Vermont, according to Way. "All of a sudden it came to mind that nobody built a high-end sled. Nobody built a sled that you could use in the winter and the summer. Nobody built a sled that had really good brakes. Nobody built a sled that had really good steering."
Though the speedy Thrill Sled is an adrenaline rush in any climate, many of its technical attributes promote safety. The bicycle-like handlebars allow for comfort and precision steering. Hydraulic brakes offer an extra measure of security in a tight spot. Regardless of how fast you're going, the ride is smooth and it's easy to maneuver out of the way of oncoming pedestrians and traffic. (Note: the sled isn't intended for children under 12).
The one drawback to the Thrill Sled is that after the wind gets through whipping up your hair, you still have to haul it back up to the top of the mountain for your next ride into childhood. Then again, you could visit a resort that features Thrill Sleds -- such as Vail and Park City -- where all the heavy lifting is done for you.
Contact Steven Walton at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-365-4961.
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