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You are going to read an article about roller coasters. For each question 31 – 36, choose the correct answer.
Highest, Fastest, Craziest
You are strapped into a tiny car, pulled up a 50-metre slope, and released at a speed of 100 kilometres per hour. Does this sound like heaven or hell to you? For many people, riding a roller coaster is the last thing they would ever want to do. But for others, it’s a passion that takes them all over the world.
Michael Edgerson, 29, is one of those who travels the globe in search of the highest, fastest and scariest rides. A long-time member of the International Roller Coaster Club, he plans his annual holidays around amusement parks and estimates he has ridden more than 150 different coasters.
‘My mum thought I’d grow out of it,’ he laughs. ‘I first got interested in roller coasters as a teenager, but then all young people love thrill and risk, don’t they? Maybe at nearly 30 I should find a more adult hobby, but I just love everything about coasters: the engineering, the design, the stories that theme parks create around each ride. And I love the travelling.’
Michael has been to the United States every year since he was 21 – the country is known for its innovation in roller coaster design – but to ride each of the record holders, he had to travel further afield. The world’s highest roller coaster, Kingda Ka, is in the US, but for the fastest, Formula Rossa, Michael flew to the UAE and for the longest, Steel Dragon 2000, he visited Japan. To experience the most twists and turns, known in the industry as ‘inversions’, he only had to take a bus for 90 minutes! The Smiler, with an incredible 14 loops in its track, is located in the UK’s Alton Towers theme park.
‘It’s a good one, The Smiler,’ says Michael. ‘But I don’t think it’s the best in Europe. I’m often impressed with German coasters, and Spain has the legendary Dragon Khan. I used to be obsessed with that ride. It’s based on a Chinese story about a dead prince who comes back to life as a dragon. Every time someone tried to ride the dragon it went crazy. How can anyone resist a roller coaster like that?’
People can and do resist, of course, believing roller coasters to be unsafe or at least unpleasant. Accidents, including one on The Smiler in 2015 in which five people were injured, receive a lot of publicity. However, studies have shown that there are just two deaths per year related to theme park rides, compared to 1.3 million road fatalities. Because of the strict regulations, riding a roller coaster is actually one of the safest things you can do.
‘The chance of a roller coaster going wrong these days is very, very low,’ confirms Cinzia Bianchi, an engineer specialising in amusement park rides. ‘The first coasters were built in Russia and they went down hills of ice. Can you imagine that now? No government would allow it. Every time there’s an accident, of course it’s tragic, but it leads to an improvement in standards. There’s little danger in riding a modern coaster.’
If that puts your mind at rest, what are the rides that fans are waiting for right now? Michael Edgerson has a few ideas about where roller coasters are heading in the near future.
‘I’ve been reading about the potential for interactive coasters that are partly controlled by the rider,’ he says, excitedly, ‘but I don’t think there are confirmed plans for any yet. China is the next hotspot because a lot of new theme parks are opening up there, and nearby in Taiwan there’s the Gravity Max. That’s an old ride, but it’s at the top of my personal list – it looks insane! I’ve also heard rumours that the UK is getting another huge new roller coaster in two years’ time. The park isn’t saying much about the specifics so the online forums are going mad with speculation, obviously. We’ll just have to wait and see.’
31. What is suggested about Michael Edgerson in the second paragraph?
32. The tallest roller coaster in the world
33. In paragraph five, Michael says that
34. Which sentence best summarises paragraph six?
35. In paragraph eight, if something puts your mind at rest, it
36. In the final paragraph, which word can replace speculation?