On The Fast Track

Reprinted from PN January 2018

Featuring breathtaking speed and rocket-like G-forces, para-bobsled is poised to be the newest addition to the Winter Paralympics.

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Dawn Macomber is fearless when she’s hurling down the para-bobsled track at roughly 80 miles an hour and experiencing five times the pull of gravity (G-forces) in the corners. A U.S. Army veteran who coped with herniated discs in her back and debilitating pain while in service, Macomber’s spinal cord was paralyzed by pressure when two of the discs shifted. She now has incomplete paraplegia, still being able to feel portions of her upper legs, and competes in many sports with the support of crutches. America’s first female para-bobsledder who competes on the World Cup circuit thinks the sport is exhilarating. 

“You have to love the adrenaline and going fast, and almost having a little bit of uncontrolled controlled feelings with that,” Macomber says. “I’m not scared at all. Scary for me is walking into a VA [Department of Veterans Affairs] hospital, not going in a bobsled.”

Coming A Long Way

Bobsled is arguably the fastest growing winter para sport, and last year, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) provisionally approved it to be included in the Paralympic Winter Games for the first time starting with the 2022 Games in Beijing. Now, athletes who have been competing in the sport recreationally can finally aspire to compete on the international stage. Para-bobsled is a mixed gender sport that has come a long way since the first para-athletes mastered the Park City track in Utah in 2003. At the international level, in a single medal event, athletes are timed over four races and the individual with the fastest cumulative time is crowned the winner. Para-athletes with the following IPC-recognized disability categories are eligible to participate in the sport: impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of motion, loss of limb or limb deficiency and leg-length difference. To be given full approval, para-bobsled must meet the minimum requirements laid out by the IPC Governing Board in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. 

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On The Fast Track


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