Hurtling down a summer toboggan run is great fun for young and old. Many vacation resorts in the Alps and in lower mountain ranges now have these sorts of installations, with a variety of different makes and models. With my inspections, I help ensure that this fun, family-friendly leisure-time activity is safe and that the risk of accidents is as small as possible.
The summer toboggan run in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a stone’s throw from the famous ski jump, has a length of 850 meters and an unusual form: first you ride down a sort of spiral. To start, I walk the course by foot and examine the stainless-steel half-pipe that holds the toboggans as they run the course. It can’t have any fissures or cracked welding seams. I also carefully examine the course signage and the cable and retaining mechanisms of the elevator. Following that, I scrutinize every single toboggan to see if all the moving parts can be moved smoothly back and forth. This is particularly important so that the two brakes—a shoe brake and an automatic centrifugal brake—work properly.
The best part of every inspection for me is of course testing the course itself. Namely, I have to ride the course multiple times for professional reasons. Of course it isn’t for fun, but rather to measure the toboggan’s ride performance, maximum acceleration and highest speed. That’s because every summer toboggan run has a built-in automatic speed restrictor—and it has to function reliably.