THIS NEW ROLLER COASTER BREAKS SIX WORLD RECORDS
But no bones. Yet.
CEDAR POINT IN SANDUSKY, in the American state of Ohio, an amusement park known for its outrageous roller coasters, currently holds five world records. This May, the park unveiled Valravn, a new coaster that will win six more individual records. Valravn is the tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster in the world and it also has the most inversions, the tallest inversion and the longest drop for a dive coaster. In other words, save the corn dog for after the ride.
The other two inversions are a dive loop (a half barrel-roll followed by a drop) and a 270-degree roll (a three-quarter twist that riders feel mostly in their extremities). Riders arrive back at the station a little over a kilometre (and two minutes 43 seconds) later.
68 M 65 M 120 KM/ H
The car approaches the precipice of the first drop at 68 metres above the ground, dangling the riders at the crest for four seconds. This pause before the 90-degree free fall is what makes Valravn a dive coaster, which is different from the other categories of roller coasters, of which there are more than 20, including wing coasters, where the riders flank the track. After the lull, the car releases into a free fall – a 65-metre straight drop that brings the speed to 120 kilometres per hour. Valravn is broken into different blocks, each equipped with sensors, called proximity switches, that detect a metal component in the vehicle. Only one train can be in any one block of the roller coaster at a time. The block brake before the second drop will not permit a car to proceed if the one in front hasn’t cleared the end of the ride. This allows Valravn to run three cars at once, making the line move almost as fast as the ride.
Valravn’s record-setting speed is necessary to make it all the way around the tallest loop, a 51-metre Immelmann loop, named after German World War I ace Max Immelmann, who invented a manoeuvre in which a pilot climbs and banks to turn around. This inversion twists the riders at the top in a half-barrel roll. Because the amount of g-force you feel on a roller coaster is inversely proportional to a loop’s radius, the large radius makes for a smooth ride. Says Rob Decker, senior vice president of planning and design for the park’s parent company, Cedar Fair: “If we went as quickly as we could from horizontal to vertical, it would be uncomfortable.”