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15th Oct 2014 11:47am | By Dr Nicola Davies
Dr Nicola Davies whizzes down the mountain on the world's longest Alpine Coaster. There's adrenalin, twists, turns and some science. Concentrate...
The longest Alpine Coaster in the world is the Hoch-Imst in Austria. It’s 2.197 miles, with an altitude at the top of 5,090ft. It was with both excitement and trepidation that I took the 20 minute ride on the ski lift to the mountain top. With the tranquil atmosphere broken every now and then by the sound of people speeding past on toboggans, I started to realise that 20 minutes of going upwards is a long way – and eventually I’d have to come down. These thoughts were lessened by the gentle sound of cow bells. Yes, cows are grazing around the coaster, minding their own business as people hurtle past them.
At the top of the mountain, my anxiety increased as the man telling me what to do didn’t speak English. I needed to walk slightly down the mountain to my sled, where I was strapped in, told how to use the brakes, and pushed forwards.
I had a clear run, so could go as fast as I wanted. The sleds are controlled by hand brakes located on both sides – pushing forward increases speed, pulling back slows you down. Being the adrenaline junky that I am, I didn’t use the brakes once. This came at a price, however - my riding partner lost his cap and camera lens cover as we gathered speed.
Brendan Walker of the Thrill Laboratory, University of Nottingham, highlights the importance of a well-choreographed rollercoaster sequence – and the Alpine Coaster sure had all the moves. While it lacked the steep drops of theme park coasters, it made up for this with unexpected twists and turns.
Psychologist Eric Berns describes rollercoaster designers as “master manipulators of our deepest fears.” The Alpine Coaster was more exhilarating than scary, but it did have some nerve-wracking bends when I thought I might join the lost cap and camera lens cover.
I was screaming, cheering, and giggling – all at once. By the time I made it to the bottom, which felt like a lifetime, I was out of breath and found it difficult to get out of my seat. The adrenaline was pumping and I was shaking.
Would I recommend the Alpine Coaster? Yes. However, it is more for families than adrenaline junkies...
Here are some tips for getting the best experience:
Prices start at under 7 Euro for one ride per adult. To see a video of the coaster in action, check out this link.