Princeton, Minn. (WCCO) — When most teenage boys talk about their ride, you can pretty much bet it’s got four tires. But for Jake Peterson, his pride and joy legally speeds along at over 80 miles-per-hour on highly-polished steel runners.
“I started driving a bobsled before I started driving a car on the road,” said Peterson.
At just 17, the Princeton High School junior is pursuing the unique winter sport of driving a two-man bobsled. It’s a passion he inherited from his father, Darrin, who retired as a bobsled driver in 1991.
Sitting in his dad’s shop on a wood-framed shipping crate, is Peterson’s 1999 Dresden design bobsled.
“My dad and I fixed it up, cleaned it up. I made it faster than what it was when the Mexican team owned it,” he explained.
Peterson does his physical training, including weight lifting and sprinting while at home. But getting time in the bobsled on practice runs requires expensive and time-consuming travel to one of the four bobsled runs in North America: Calgary, Salt Lake City, Vancouver and Lake Placid.
Peterson welcomes any companies or individuals interested in becoming sponsors to help defray his costs. Currently, “Ditch Witch” is prominently displayed across the hood of his bright red sled.
He just returned from competition at the World Junior Championships held in Park City, Utah earlier this month. He and his partner placed 14th out of 16 teams. Only two years into the sport, they were competing against bobsled teams with much more seasoning.
You could say that flying downhill at a high rate of speed comes naturally for Peterson. After leaving competition in 1991, his father began coaching other bobsledders. Jake Peterson ‘s mother participated in the sport of luge. Their competitive dreams are now living through their son.
“I want to make it to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia,” said Peterson.
His dad knows it will take a lot of practice, discipline and time away from home for Jake to realize his dream, but he has the utmost confidence in his son’s quick grasp of the highly technical sport.
“His driving ability, I’m quite impressed with and so are his coaches. That’s the one of the things that inspires me to continue on, moving forward, knowing he’s capable of doing this,” said Peterson’s dad.
Back in the shop, the red bobsled’s scratches and dings are Jake’s constant reminder of past runs that didn’t go exactly as planned. Crashes, he says, are part of the sport but constant training will keep them to a minimum.
As he packs his gear for his first training trip to Europe the Princeton teen is on a quest where everything is right.