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Thursday July 17, 2014 MYT 2:45:00 PM
Friday July 18, 2014 MYT 6:10:35 PM
by kevin murphy
Taller than the Statue of Liberty, riders travel up to speeds of 80kmph on Verruckt — the German word for 'insane'.
Towering over the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in the US state of Kansas, the world’s tallest water slide Verruckt successfully opens to the shrieks of riders plunging as fast as 80kmph from a height of 51.4m.
While the climb to the top is a dizzying 264 steps — taller than the Statue of Liberty, from toe to torch — that’s nothing compared to the slide.
“Awesome, it felt like we were in the air the whole time,” said 14-year-old Nick Reeves, the front-seat passenger for the slide’s first public ride when it opened on July 10. Nick, his twin brother Chris, and dad Troy, made the trek all the way from Arizona for the ride’s opening.
Riders are strapped into a raft that has room for three people and dive 17 stories in a near vertical descent before being propelled back up five stories by rushing water and plunging a second time to its end. The descent is pure 15 to 20 seconds of adrenaline rush.
“It was breathtaking,” said Paige Rife, 17, of Olathe, Kansas. “It was actually steeper than I thought. I screamed all the way down.”
Verruckt is nearly 1.5m taller than the previous record holder, a slide in Rio de Janeiro called Mount Kilimanjaro, the Guinness Book of World Records said on its website. Riders must be at least 137cm tall to take the plunge and are weighed to make sure rafts are run with a combined weight of 181kg to 249kg.
Although several riders said the raft felt like it travelled above the rushing water. Ride designer John Schooley said, however, the raft touches water the entire trip down the fibreglass slide.
Operators postponed the opening of the Kansas City, Kansas, slide three times to ensure safety. A net surrounds the slide on its descent, not out of concern that riders could fly out, but so they won’t try to climb out if the raft stops for some reason, Schooley said.
A sign warns people they should ride Verruckt only if they are in good physical and mental condition. Riders said it felt safe, if a bit scary. “Insane is a good name for it,” said Mike Van Elsen of Kansas City. — Reuters
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