I had this one in an anthology which I think I passed on many moves ago. I remember reading it first in the 80s, but it is likely older, as my mother was a school librarian and allowed me to pick from her culls.

The sport is something like bobsled-cross; competitors in sleds run down an ice track, multiple competitors at a time. It is very dangerous - fatalities are common. The two things I remember about the sleds is that they had deployable wings that could help manoever and regulate speed, and a finite number of nose rockets they could fire to slow them down drastically to avoid leaving the track or collisions.

The other thing I remember about it is that, due to the high risk, a fatalistic attitude was endemic among the competitors, and the response to most questions was "it's possible", or something like it.

The story was one competitor's thoughts during one particularly harrowing run, with explanatory sidetracks as needed.


"Mirror of Ice" by Gary Wright

They called it The Stuka. It was a tortuous, twenty-kilometer path of bright ice, and in that distance, 12.42 miles, it dropped 7,366 feet, carving a course down the alpine mountainside like the track of a great snake. It was thirty feet wide on the straights with corners curling as high as forty feet. It was made for sleds...

The first result for my search for science fiction bobsled netted me this Reddit query for the same story.

The quote you remember, perhaps:

The Wingover. . . .
Imagine an airplane peeling off into a dive . . . imagine a sled doing the same on a towering wall of ice, a wall rising like a great, breaking wave, frozen at the moment of its over- hanging curl. . . . The Wingover was a monstrous, curving scoop to the right, nearly fifty feet high, rolling the sleds up, over, and hurling them down into a 65-degree pitch when twisted into a 6-G pull-out to the left.
. . . "Impossible!" When Wilfrid von Gerlach laid out the Stuka that is what they told him about the Wingover. "It cannot be done!"

But von Gerlach had been a Gran Prix racer and a stunt pilot, and when the Stuka was finished he took the first sled through. At the finish he sat quietly for a moment, staring back at the mountain. "At the Wingover I was how fast?" he asked throughtfully. They replied that he'd been radared there at 110 mph. He nodded, then made the statement the sledders had carried with them ever since.
"It's possible."

  • Thank you. The last time I looked must have been pre-Reddit and I wasn't as good at searching as they were. Like the person there, I've been looking for it for years. And no, I didn't remember the origin of the phrase - but I did remember the story's ending. And I believe the anthology I had was isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?1092 : "A science fiction reader", because I think I remember "If", and skipping "Nightfall" because I had that in another book. – Mycroft Feb 1 at 19:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.