Descent into terror on the Cresta Run

I wish John Regis the best of luck as a contender for a place on the British Olympic bobsleigh team. You may say that is a fairly discountable platitude, but it would be to dismiss two or three of the most dramatic minutes of my life.

I wish John Regis the best of luck as a contender for a place on the British Olympic bobsleigh team. You may say that is a fairly discountable platitude, but it would be to dismiss two or three of the most dramatic minutes of my life.

Once I went down the Cresta Run and, in the same hell-bent year, joined the British team preparing for the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid in 1980. I didn't make the team, but I did go down the course in Winterbergen - in the No 2 position and while uttering a good act of contrition liberally punctuated with various obscenities and not a few appeals to God. I'm sure Regis, as a front-rank athlete, will cope with more aplomb but in my defence I can say I had a rather unnerving introduction to the sport. Before my first descent, the team chaplain took me on a tour of the course. At one particularly bizarre, double-banked, switched -backed corner, he casually advised: "Try to keep your head tucked in here; an East German went out yesterday and there was claret all over the place. By the way old chap, do we have your blood group?"

At the Cresta, where Errol Flynn called for champagne after completing one of the slowest times ever recorded, I received a little more encouragement, especially from the scion of a Venezuelan oil family. "Amigo," he said, "you are about to have an experience more thrilling than making love to the most beautiful woman in the world." Later, when I visited him in the St Moritz clinic, where his right leg was hoisted in traction, he was a little less euphoric about this extreme form of rough sex. I promptly caught the train for Zurich. As I said, good luck, John Regis.

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