By CHAD LAWSON
Gov. Michael Leavitt and new Salt Lake Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney met Saturday at the Utah Winter Sports Park in Park City to see who could move at faster speeds in a two-man bobsled.
The race was part of a “build a bobsled” program, where four high schools constructed bobsleds from kits provided by the U.S. Bobsled Federation. The participating schools were Ben Lomond, Roy, South Summit and Granite.
Saturday’s’s bobsled race was a dream come true for youth-program director Bob Bills.
“The governor put us on the spot to build these bobsleds, so we put the spotlight back on him to drive it,” Bills said.
Gov. Leavitt seemed a little concerned before the race.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I am a little nervous,” Leavitt said.
Gov. Leavitt was paired up with Carl Wooten, 15, from Roy. The two combined to reach speeds over 40 miles an hour and edge the Mitt Romney and Jared Heaton team by 0.18 of a second.
Romney was not surprised by the outcome of the day.
“The governor’s bobsled was better then mine, and that is O.K., because he is used to winning and I am used to losing,” Romney said.
Although the Leavitt vs. Romney match was the most anticipated of the day, Mote Mounga stole the show from both of them. Mounga, a Utah sponsor of Tongan bobsledders, won the event with a time of 36.88 seconds. He was teamed up with Jeremy Holm, 17, of Salt Lake City.
The winning bobsled was designed and built by students from Roy High School. The sled built by Granite High finished second behind the team of Leavitt and Wooten. Romney and Heaton finished third, driving the Ben Lomond sled. Finishing fourth place was the South Summit bobsled driven by Robert Brems and Ryan Darton.
The high school students who participated in building these bobsleds take pride in knowing the bobsleds used for this race will continue to be used for Olympic training.
This was the first ever Governor’s Cup Bobsled Race. According to bobsled officials at the race, they hope it will become an annual event.