First Official Race and NYC

Sorry for the delayed post, everyone! This is going to be a long one. So much has happened in 2 weeks! First and foremost… I get to be a pilot sled for the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS! They picked 2 girls from the new sliders to do it and Caitlin and I got the job. A pilot sled is like skeleton’s equivalent to a rabbit in track & field. I will be the first slider to go and will show the other sliders the way which the grooves run. The grooves (that the sled sits in for the first 40 meters) can be cut different ways. So I am not allowed to steer at all going into the first turn in order to show the other sliders where my sled would go naturally. This means I get housing at the Olympic Training Center for the World Championships and get to slide through to Nationals.

I usually post on the weekends, but last weekend I went to New York City! It’s a solid 5 hours from Lake Placid, but it as well worth it. I went down with Nick and met up with Allyson, a former track teammate, at Madison Square Garden for the Track & Field US Open. The meet itself was very small but the quality of the athletes was top notch. I don’t know if you guys follow track but some really big names were there including: Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell, Justin Gatlin, LoLo Jones, David Oliver, Nesta Carter, Jenn Suhr, Kellie Wells, Bershawn Jackson a trio of shotputters (Christian Cantwell, Adam Nelson, Ryan Whiting) and my favorite track athlete…. Bernard Lagat! Although Lagat got nipped at the line in the mile, it was a great race and an overall quality weekend. After the meet I met up with some of my former USA Track & Field Co-workers and the following day I went (what else?) shopping! The trip back was moderately uneventful, minus the fact that it took Nick and I 40 minutes to find a gas station in Albany. I know Albany is a city and all… but WHERE ARE YOUR GAS STATIONS?! One of the Lugers told me a story about how they ran out of gas at 2am on I-87 and had to call for help. That seemed pretty terrible to me and I am definitely not trying for that… ever.

After returning late that snowy Sunday, I got geared up for another week of sliding. It was definitely a week of ups and downs as the ice was pretty wily all week (mostly because of the weather). Monday started off pretty well as I strung together some decent runs. Tuesday was not the same case, as a poor second run led to a stiff and unresponsive 3rd run. All I wanted was some good runs but by the time Wednesday rolled around it was close to 40 degrees and the track was 10 seconds slow. BOO. After getting up to 71mph, dropping back down to 58mph felt like a snail’s speed.

But on Friday I competed in my first official race! It was for the Empire State Winter Games which is like an mini Olympics for the state of New York. In general, the sports are geared for younger kids, but participants of Skeleton are generally older, so it was the same crew racing that usually races- with the addition of a few more experienced women.

I ended up coming in 2nd! Since the World championships are coming up, they have been working on the track and it was pretty quick. I had down times of 57.75 and 57.96 which is pretty good for me, so I am pleased. The girl that won, Lauren, had 2 solid runs too-her times were 57.47 and 57.71. Sam came in 3rd with times of 58.26 and 58.46.

I have got some pictures and clips or you guys! Firstly, here is my roommate Gracie and myself with our sleds after the race today.

I mentioned in my last post that Gracie and I were teaming up to do our team building exercise- bobsled. Well we took the kid’s sleds from start 4, which is halfway down the track. It was a blast. We each got 2 runs of driving and 2 runs of pushing. Going from skeleton to bob was very different. I felt like I could see everything in bobsled because as a driver, I was sitting up. With skeleton I can really only see as far as my head is up off the ice. If skeleton is like driving my Honda Civic, then Bobsled is like driving my mother’s mini-van. Gracie and I bonded together to make team Keyboard Cat. If you don’t know was Keyboard Cat is, you fail at the internet. I will enlighten you.

Here is our interpretation of it. I just need Keyboard cat to play us off as we start to actually slide. I’m pushing in the first one, and Gracie is pushing in the second one. Yes, we are weird. Embrace it.

The highlight of the night was Corinne doing bikini bobsled. Yes, it is exactly what you think. Corinne. Bikini. Pushing bobsled. Mind you is was really cold this evening but she managed to strip down and tough it out for 50 seconds. Visit Corinne’s blog here.

I will leave you guys with a video Nick took a video of me going through turn 9 on Thursday. Remember last time I was talking about how turns 9-12 are all connected? Well here is the start of that chain of turns. Check out more of his videos at nathancrumpton.com.

I know the video is only 5 seconds, but it is at such a close angle! You really start to pick up speed once you exit 10 (the big turn that is one turn after the one filmed). They open up the shades for the World Championships so perhaps I’ll get a video of of that turn. From what I understand, I don’t get a whole lot of height in 10. Definitely something I need to study and work on. I’ll leave you guys for Superbowl Sunday!

Advertisements

Curling, Aerial Skiing and oh yeah… Skeleton.

Another week down in the OTC. The season feels like it is almost over! It’s not really, but it is flying by. Sara Mitchell, a good friend of mine, has a new blog called Health Done Right. She’s a fantastic writer and this blog is utilizing her “professional passion — writing — to make healthy and permanent changes to her life.” Be sure to check it out!

I have videos of some push stuff I have been working on recently. Becca, one of our coaches, is working with us to be more explosive and powerful off the block. We have been using a sled on rollerblades with a 45lb plate to practice with. So the sled itself weighs 90-95lbs. That’s way heavier than the sled I actually use, which is about 63lbs. The sled kind of naturally veers off to the side since there is no groove holding it in place, but this is a good drill for working on your knee drive. The hardest part of this drill is stopping the sled. Once you get it moving it’s pretty hard to stop because it is so heavy.

Here’s a new video of a recent push on the track. This push I believe was a 5.52, which is a decent time but I would like to implement some of the new things I have learned from our push sessions to see if I can get it faster. The hardest part of the push for me is getting warmed up enough to run it quickly. I was one of those people at track meets that would have my best jumps after a race because I was so warmed up. There isn’t room to sprint (or really do quality drills) in the start house. That leaves outside. Not only is it cold, but the ice and snow on the road makes doing drills and sprinting rather perilous. I have been wrestling with new ways of warming up but haven’t come up with a firm solution just yet.

We had another inter-squad race on Friday and I won! It was a 3 heat race, which is atypical but I strung together 3 good runs, including a PR (personal record). 57.82, 57.72 and 58.21. The starts were not that great, but I did manage to get turn 12 right for the first time ever! I split the track up into sections and turns 9-12 are all connected in my eyes. If you get one wrong, the rest are varying degrees of bad. My problem has been getting out of 10 at the right time. It’s the biggest turn on the track but there seems to be a small window for exiting it properly. Here’s what usually happens to me: I can’t hold the sled up on the curve in 9 so I don’t get a good cross from 9 to 10. That poor cross makes me too late to exit 10, and if you’re late to 11, it’s impossible to get to 12 on time. See? They’re all strung together. But the point is, I got 12 right for once. Woo!

Here’s a picture of the top 3. 2nd went to Corinne DiPietro and 3rd went to Caitlin Carter.

You can visit Corinne’s blog is here: Head Phirst
or Caitlin’s here: Challenge the Impossible

So we went XC skiing last week which was fun! But this week we got to do curling which was awesome! At the last Olympics I remember watching hours of curling. The entire time I had no idea what the hell was going on. Well after actually playing I still have no idea what the hell is going on. Don’t know what curling is? Here:

This is my boss team.

On Friday night the Skiing Freestyle World Cup was in Lake Placid. So I went outside from 8-10pm at night to watch people do all kinds of crazy flips and twists! It was AWESOME. China also went 1-2-3 for the women and 1-2 for the men. I didn’t know they were that awesome at skiing, but it was a legit Chinese domination on Friday. I stood next to a fire pit for a good chunk of the evening ans still managed to be cold. Let me describe to you what I was wearing:

Thick fleece spandex good for 20 degrees, soccer pants and sweatpants. 2 pairs of wool socks, boots. 2 layers of under armour/nike cold gear tops, a sweatshirt, winter jacket, windbreaker shell. Fleece gloves under thick mittens, and 2 hats. AND I STILL WASN’T WARM ENOUGH. But the thing is, I don’t think I could have physically put on any more clothes. Aw… and as I finished this paragraph, an ad just came on pandora for something in Greensboro, NC. They must think I still live in civilization. So sad.

Well, that’s all for this week. In other news, I met some luge kids! They’re awesome. And their equipment is really weird. The strangest being spiked torture-like gloves. We run the sled off the block, but they paddle with their hands. I’m going to try and get a picture of a sled, runners and gloves sometime this week.

Meet the sled

The beginning of this week was full of nice weather. It was even sunny for upstate NY! I mean, it wasn’t nice enough to go get a track workout in outside (i’m going through withdrawals)… but practices were pleasant. Workouts and lifting have been going well and I have been trying to incorporate new kinds of workouts but we are somewhat limited because of facilities which sometimes makes it difficult.

As promised, here are picture of my new sled! I will be decorating it this summer at some point and am currently mulling over some ideas in my head. I really had no idea what a skeleton sled even looked like until I came up here. Pictures on the internet are scant so I thought these picture might be interesting for you guys!

So this is the belly of the sled. It is the part that faces the ice. Those silver bars are the runners- which are what actually make contact with the ice. The end of the sled that is sitting on the ground is the front of the sled. So when I slide on it, my chin goes there.

Here’s a close up of the runners. I purchased these in December and they are Davenport Women’s Big Wheels. This type of runner is the standard for newer sliders. They are a good all-around runner. Once I learn more about which runners are good for particular kinds of ice I’ll probably invest in more runners. But for now, these are my practice and race runners so I treat them like gold. You have to cover the runners when transporting the sled so they do not get scratched. Sliders commonly use a plastic garden hose to cover them. The circumference of the runner is roughly equivalent to the circumference of a garden hose. So you just have to cut the hose down the middle to get it on and off the sled. It’s kind of a pain to get on the runner after practice because the hose has gotten really hard and brittle. It doesn’t mold very well but it does get the job done.

The first time I saw runners I was surprised to find out that they were more like a round bar as apposed to a luge sled’s runners. Those look more like the bottom of an ice skate, which is what I had initially imagined they would look like. The picture above is of the spine of the runner. This is the part that makes contact with the sled (and is sharp). But the spine only covers half of the runner, the other half is smooth, round metal.

This is the saddle of the sled. So my feet hang off the right side and my body lays relatively snugly in the middle of the saddle. I hold onto the sled while I am sliding with those “L” shaped handle bars. My hands fit underneath it, while my quads lay ontop of the L-shaped bars to make a sandwich. By having the handles under the body (as opposed to on the side) it forces a slider to keep their shoulders in contact with the front of the sled. You steer with shoulders/knees which would be hard to do if your shoulders were not in contact with the sled the entire time. You have to pad the sled yourself which takes FOREVER. It took me about 4 hours to cut out all of the pieces to the proper size and attach them to the sled. We have to use a special kind of tape called Tesa which can cost upwards of $60 a roll. That’s right. A ROLL. After getting everything secure you have to blow dry the tape to set it in place for good. The tape wont fall off when it gets wet or cold which is imperative for skeleton. Apparently if a piece of tape falls off your sled during a race in Europe there can be a 200 euro fine! Lame, right?

I will leave you with an amazing video of fellow Devo athlete, Kellie doing a 360 on the track before turn 1. I thought I would never see it happen, but alas… it even happened a second time this past week to Alex. I do not have a video of Alex’s 360, but I will for my next post. Just for the record, Kellie nor Alex was harmed in the process! They both managed to enter turn 1 going the correct direction and make it all the way down the track like a champ.

Montreal and a new sled

First thing is first, a big thank you to my first 2 sponsors (aside from the parentals), Kevin Sullivan and Rory LaGrotta! Thanks for the support!

I never thought I would live somewhere cold enough to have a huge lake freeze over, much less watch a dog sled travel around the circumference of it. I contemplated changing from skeleton to the Iditarod for about 2 seconds. Then I remembered how I don’t like dogs and how cold the musher’s face must be. Wikipedia (always reliable) says the Iditarod is over 1000 miles long and takes 9-15 days to complete. “Teams frequently race through blizzards causing whiteout conditions, sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds which can cause the wind chill to reach −100 °F (−73 °C).”

Uhh…. on Tuesday it was -12F when we finished sliding and I thought my hands were going to fall off. I mean, people think skeleton is crazy… but why the hell would you wanna hang out outside for 9-15 days in -100F weather? That is legitimately terrible. I see no positives.

Here is the view from my current seat. Grey skies, snow, a frozen lake, and dog sleds!

To backtrack a little, before the holidays I went to Montreal for the weekend with Adrienne, Nick and Jeremy. After some of the hostels I stayed in while traveling Europe (ie- Amsterdam, Prague… the airport) this hostel was super nice. If anyone is planning a trip up there, I recommend Montreal Central. At the time, I thought it was cold but this past Tuesday’s -12F made me realize that +10F is warm. My definition of what “cold” is redefined every week.

Montreal was really cute. It’s only 2 hours away which made for a good weekend getaway. There are parts of it that remind me a lot of a picturesque European town. But I also managed to go to a casino for the first time. Adrienne and Jeremy played some poker and came out on top. I mostly people watched. I don’t know if all casinos are like the one we went to, but it was nothing like that TV show “Las Vegas.” Pretty sure Adrienne was 1 of 3 women playing poker.

The first day we walked around the town and I ate the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life. I do not kid. THE BEST. It was a smoked meat sandwich and would certainly make any vegetarian a bit queasy. I didn’t take any pictures of my sandwich but here’s one I found online.

Yummmmm…

Ok, enough about sandwiches and the Iditerod… back to skeleton. Upon returning to Lake Placid, I got my new sled. The ice all week has been pretty fast, which made for an interesting first few days of sliding on a new sled. I padded it on Tuesday which took 4 hours. Yeah, 4 hours. What is worse, is that I will certainly be doing that more than once. You have to cut out a dense foam to fill in the sled. It is a very tedious process. I will take pictures of my sled this week and add them into my next post! The pod (this is the plastic cover on the bottom of the sled) is a plain black right now. I will be getting a new one in the summer and plan on painting it. In the mean time I need to come up with an appropriate name for her. Yes, I decided my sled was a “her.” I’m open to suggestions!

We are going cross country skiing this week as a team. Wish me luck. Anyone who knows me, knows that this whole long distance/cardio thing is not really up my alley. I think the longest I have run in the past 6 months has been 21 minutes. And it was not fast. Ok, I’m making myself sound really un-athletic. So let me remind you guys, I love sprinting.

I have never been skiing before in my life and the thought of doing all the work to move from point A to point B seems like… well… a lot of work. I like it when gravity moves things for me. But I want to learn how to ski and I’m sure it will be fun.

Workouts this week have gone pretty well. I have started to incorperate triple jump drills into my workouts. Why you ask? Well the push start is very dependent on hip flexor strength and flexibilty. The drills are an excellent way to work on that. It makes me kind of miss triple jumping. Then I remember the perpetual sandy pants and I am brought back to reality. Also, because it is too cold to sprint outside, the longest I can sprint for in our gym is about 35 meters. It is a nice change of pace.

I am off to see Sherlock Holmes at the movie theater that costs $7. NO MORE TYSONS CORNER AND $16 MOVIE TICKETS. Win!

I will have those pictures of my new sled for you guys next time!

Crashes, Cuts and Bruises

This posts theme: self destruction. Let me tell you… my body has taken a beating these past 2.5 weeks. First, there was the bobsled crash. Then, there was the crash out of Shady (the biggest turn on the track). And today I slammed my chin into the edge of my chin guard after exiting turn 12.

Don’t worry. I have recorded my battle scars.

Please witness my crash out of Shady. First of all, this run is pretty terrible from top to bottom. It was the first run on Monday and I was not focused properly. Second of all, Window Movie Maker is a terrible program and I had to do a screen capture of the movie because WMM would not let me rasterize it. So, I apologize now for the watermark and the low quality footage.

After this crash I had a bruise (and still do) that starts at my hip and extends down 8-10 inches. This bad boy was every color of the rainbow and BRIGHT. I mean, some people get bruises and it’s a slight discoloration… but this one looked like someone had just painted purple, green, blue, yellow and red onto my body. Also because I was wearing spandex, the blood from the bruise pooled at the seams and looked extra grimy. In addition to that one, I got a nice bruise on my shoulder blade and a large one on my calf. The one on my calf kind of wraps around and I don’t really understand how that much skin could make contact with a wall all at once.

Today was a whole other story. I just got my new runners in (Davenport women’s big wheels) and attached them to my sled. This weekend was pretty cold and the track this week has been pretty quick. Today was no exception. My fastest run thus far had been 59.83 (from the race the first week of this training block.) But on my first run today I had a huge PR with a 58.70! After the first run I was having more trouble than usual in curve 12. It generally gives me a little sass, but today I was getting into the curve waaaay too late and flopping down off the end of it quite aggressively. The first run ended and my helmet’s chin guard smashed into my chin (when my face hit the ice on the flop) and left a nice bruise.

No big deal, right? Wrong. The second run ended up being my second fastest ever, but came at a price. I had the same problem in 12 and the bruise promptly turned into a large and wide cut. Ouch. I proceeded to bleed everywhere. Because there is still a 3rd of the track to go after exiting turn 12, the blood was flying off my chin and onto my sled and promptly FREEZING THE BLOOD TO MY SLED. I would take a picture, but I will spare you.

Afterwards, I went to sports medicine and did not need stitches. I did however, need glue! I have never been to the hospital, had stitches or anything before, and was unaware of this superglue made for skin! Celeste glued my chin right up. Here’s a picture. It’s definitely leaving a scar.

Right now, I’m just trying to figure out how to prevent this from happening again. Tomorrow is the last day before the break and we have a race off, but I do not know if I will be able to because of my chin. We will see and I will be sure to let you guys know! Speaking of races, the second race we had last Friday went decently. My first run was similar to what I had been running all week, the second one was much faster (over a second) and I ended up placing 5th out of 10 or so girls. It was a similar situation to the race before, as I was the first new slider to come in, but a ways off of 4th place (a Devo slider).

I am also looking for a job to take up once my season concludes in March. Not sure if I should go the internship route or just look for a normal job. Friends, if you have any suggestions comment here or send me an email at vday@elon.edu.

On another note, this past weekend I went to Montreal! It was my first time in Canada and I will definitely be making some more trips up north. I have a couple pictures for you all and will post them in my next update. If that update comes after Christmas, Merry Christmas! I fly home on Thursday morning at 5:30am and will be back in Lake Placid on January 1. Thanks to the ‘rents I will be flying and not driving back to Vienna. Thanks mom and dad! Hopefully I will be able to find my car under 5 feet of snow when I get back up here.

Crash course in Bobsled… literally

This week flew by! And this is going to be a massive update. The internet at the OTC has not been working all week. I am currently sitting in a coffee shop typing this out. On Thursday the computer lab’s internet wasn’t working either so I drove out to town and sat in my car on main street to pay my credit card bill and buy a plane ticket. Did I mention it was past midnight? Yeah. I’m sketchy.

Anyway, I got a new sled which is a definite step up from my school sled. I’ll be renting it for the season. Because these sled are exclusively “ours” for the season, we are supposed to take them back to the OTC with us to maintain it accordingly. It has severely cut back on my car’s ability to carry people. We did manage to fit a 3rd person into the car. Please meet my roommate, Adrienne. She’s getting cozy with 2 sleds after practice:

I felt like made solid improvements this week in whilst sliding. My brush spikes still haven’t come yet, but I did have some good push starts! I’m trying to make my sprint workouts more directly applicable to the sprinting portion of skeleton. There is a wooden block in the gym that is used for working on starts. So every short sprint I did this week was off of this block. Instead of doing a typical stationary track start, I tried mimic the rocking motion I use when pushing the sled. In addition, I have to get more comfortable with starting with my left foot in the front. My stronger leg is definitely my right, and I can summon much more power with an the block behind it as opposed to flat on the ice. Here’s a quick video of what Adrienne and I have been doing in the gym this week:

The end result was this at the track:

The loading portion of my push start needs a lot of work. You are supposed to load on you chest and not your stomach. If you load on your chest, you can gather more momentum downwards resulting in a faster start. I pushed a 5.46 this week- which is a really solid start time! I would like to break into the 40’s more often but I also think I need to focus how to drive properly. The push start doesn’t win you the race, it can just give you a head start on the ride down. The driving the track is more important.

On Friday, my former roommate and local mad scientist, Ida, pulled some strings and got me a temporary job as a brakeman for pilot Katelyn Kelly. The other brakemen there padded me up for the ride down which proved to be a good call on their part. They gave me a crash course in how to push the bobsled In turn 8 we crashed and I am definitely feeling it one day later. Generally when a bobsled crashes, you are supposed to stay in the sled and pull into the belly of the sled as much as possible. This is so your head doesn’t get smacked around on the ice and to avoid an ice burn. I went airborne for a moment (I think this is when we landed on our side) and then I felt ice on my right side. It took my brain a second to register that we had crashed and I yanked up hard to get myself into the sled. Since we crashed in the top third of the track, we rode down the rest of the track on our side. Then when I finally thought we had stopped, we started going backwards! When it actually finally stop moving I had so much adrenaline pumping- it was the to most bizarre sensation. I’m fine apart from a very sore back, neck and biceps. Serious props to all those brakemen our there. I think I will stick with skeleton thankyouverymuch.

After bobsledding we had a friendly race between all the skeleton people here this week. We’ll be having one every Friday from now on to keep our heads in race mode. The races are also to teach new people about race procedure, which is something I find very helpful. I broke 60 seconds for the first time! Woo! My fastest time was a 59.83. My combined time was a 1:59.97, which I am happy with. I came in 8th of the 12 people racing, which isn’t that great but it included more experienced sliders so I am pleased. That finish put me first of the new sliders, which was also pretty neat. But every week is a new race and anything can happen next week. I will keep you guys posted!

I will conclude the long blog post with a short video of me pathetically trying to carry my sled up the stars:

Back from break and ready to slide

Sorry for the hiatus! I wasn’t sliding and was participating in the the usual Thanksgiving festivities. I went shopping on Black Friday, but really it was Thursday night and early into the morning on Friday… and I survived! Woo! On Sunday I drove back to Lake Placid. I made good time whilst listening to my first audiobook, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It was excellent and lasted just about the entire drive. Since I’ll be making the trip pretty frequently, I’ll be purchasing many more of these books.

The working out over the break went pretty well. It was fairly warm and I got some really solid sprint workouts in. This is the first time in a while where I had that good feeling of exhaustion following the conclusion of the workout. The 2 best were: 2×150, 2×100, 3×40, 4×20 and 6×15, 5×30, 4×45. Lifting was pretty standard, but it’s hard at a gym which doesn’t a platform. Luckily, the gym I went to had a rotating bar and I could follow our program without sacrificing too much.

I could not check in to the OTC until Monday so I slept on the floor of a skeleton athlete’s apartment. Roughin’ it for sure. I mean… kind of, but not really. But it was nice because I got to slide on Monday. The people that flew in Monday didn’t get up here in time (the airport is 2 hours away). The runs were not spectacular, but the ice was slow and I was definitely dusting off the rust/getting used to a new sled. Today was much better and I had some decent push times and felt decent on the ride down as well. I’m slowly getting more comfortable pushing the sled, but there is still much work to be done. The list of things to fix seems quite long.

Here’s a picture of the sled shed before our runs tonight! Bobsleds and skeleton sleds galore! It was much busier tonight because usually there are no bobsled people joining us.

When I got back, one of the other athletes had sent out an email about brush spikes (the shoes used on the ice). If you purchase them from Germany they cost a bit under $400. Part of that has to do with the exchange rate and the shipping costs. BUT Tyler was informed of an Ebay user who is located in Great Britain that was selling the for $191… new! I spent a good portion of the night trying on other athletes shoes to pick the proper size. I think they’re from last season, but I don’t really care. Here’s a picture… sorry it so huge:

I also ordered runners (which I had mentioned in my previous post. They wont be here for a while, but when I get them I will be sure to take a picture of those guys too.

Last week of sliding school

I just got back to Virginia! The company I worked for before I left, Beautyscope, even hired be back for the 2 weeks I am home. Hooray! The money will go directly towards new runners I am purchasing. I got a welcome home present from Northern Virginia on my drive home today. Traffic. My 25 minute commute turned into a 1.25 hr commute. Urg.

The drive from Lake Placid to Vienna was smooth sailing minus the fact that McDonalds in Lake Placid does not open until 6am. Oh, and the Starbucks is not open until 7. WHAT PLANET IS LAKE PLACID ON. So at that very tired moment I was thinking to myself, “Ok, it’s 6am… I can make it to the interstate and then find a coffee place right off the interstate. By that time Starbucks will be open.” Well… TWO HOURS LATER, I find a coffee place. The portion of the drive from Lake Placid to about Albany entails absolutely NOTHING.

Anyway, back to the good stuff! My last week at sliding school was good. The ice was really quite fast on Thursday and Friday. Apparently one of the international sliders was only .1 off the track record. Russia and Germany were having their team trials so we showed up a bit early to watch some of the runs. It was really pretty awesome. Check out some of the videos Nick took of them going through turn 4 and 10 here.

It has definitely been a learning process with the whole steering thing. I got some positive feedback on Thursday for my steering through the top of the track. When you get the top of the track right, the bottom goes much faster. I screwed up the chicane a couple times just because my brain just couldn’t process which way to go fast enough. I got up to 68 mph! I guess that’s kind of slow compared to the world cup guys (I think they get up to 75 mph) but it’s still pretty crazy to me that we can travel that fast on a sheet on metal a few inches above the ice in just 3 weeks.

Btw, the chicane is a seemingly straight segment towards the bottom of the track. Upon closer inspection it is not quite straight. This “inspection” could be through a track walk or just sliding into the walls frequently. I have been known to opt for the second option on occasion. A slight adjustment will keep you clean, but anything too harsh will send you slamming into a wall.

I feel like the whole steering thing is coming along, it is just going to take many more runs to be comfortable doing it, much less doing it correctly. I find the track walks we do to be helpful even though we are flooded with information. Some of it definitely sticks, it is just a matter of applying what we learn correctly.

I will leave you with this video of our track. It’s a helmet cam view. This is not mine, but it was taken at Mt. Van Hovenburg, the same track we slide on.

I’ll be buying my jofa (helmet) and Davenport runners when I get back to Lake Placid. I will be sure to take pictures for you guys as soon as I get them. I will be in VA for 2 weeks and then will head back to Lake Placid for 3 weeks until Xmas.

It’s going to be a long winter…

It’s cold here….this could be a problem.

Below are some pictures from my fellow skeleton friend, Nic. Nic took pictures instead of sliding on Friday because the night prior he “decided to check the structural integrity of turn 4.” That test included 1 concussion and 6 stitches. Oops. Check out his website here.

Here’s Mt Van Hoevenberg from the top! We typically slide at night or in the late afternoon. Because it gets dark in Lake Placid as soon as the sun come up (sometimes I wonder if the sun forgets about us), it’s almost always dark during practice.

Me attempting to “warm up.” Hah. Attempt is the operative word here. I need to come up with a different strategy up that doesn’t include below freezing shakeouts.

We aren’t supposed to be doing an all out push starts yet but we have been practicing at the push track a bit. So this run was not all out but instead focused on keeping my hips square and knees up. I feel a bit anxious using track spikes to sprint on ice because the traction you get in them is not phenomenal. Skeleton shoes are called brush spikes. They look a lot like track spikes (which is what we have been using… great for me since I have approximately 3298732201 pairs of them). The biggest difference is the spike plate. Instead of 6 or 8 quarter inch metal pins, brush spikes have hundreds of tiny needles. Considering I have forever scarred my ankles from my triple jump spikes, it will be interesting to see what damage I inflict once I get the brush spikes.

I will end on this all around awesome picture of one of the more experienced sliders. Visit Chris’ blog here. He is completely airborn! Wha–whaaaaaat?

We had a race/quiz on Friday to wrap up week 2 of skeleton school. We were paired up with a more experienced slider and got 2 runs to be the most consistent. They added up the difference in the time of the 2 runs for my partner and me. After 2 runs my teammate, Sam, and I were tied for 1st with one other team. So the quizzes we took were a tiebreaker. But guess what? There was still a tie. So at the last minute Don says we each get a 3rd run to compare. Well, I blew it and we came in second. Womp. I did manage to get a pretty ridiculous looking shirt out of it. But did I learn a valuable lesson. The mentality that goes into skeleton is a lot like any field event in track. You get a run. You wait. You do drills to stay loose. You get a run. You wait. More drills…. So on and so forth. I need to be patient and stay focused on the job infront of me. I feel like as a track and field athlete I was good at performing under pressure because during each round the only thing I thought about was the next jump. I just need to apply that to skeleton now.

Thats all for now. I’m in Lake Placid for one more week and then head home for 2 weeks. I should be coming back up in December for a bit though. I’ll be sure to post on how the week goes.

I found the North Pole

My lovely sled! We were each given a sled to use for the schools this month. Here’s my sweet ride.

No no no. Not Planking. Sliding through the North Pole. Yes. There is literally a town called “North Pole” in New York. And we went there.

Mirror Lake

What a beautiful day in Lake Placid. Here’s a pic of Mirror Lake from the back of a cute coffee shop on the Main strip.

This weekend a few friends at the OTC and I did some exploring. We initially wanted to drive up Whiteface (one of the main skiing peaks in the Adirondacks) because we heard the views were amazing. But because it usually snows in November they close the roads going to the top of the peak. Womp. For the record, it has been in the mid-50s all week.

But back to the Skeleton… today we went from start 1! Our coach (Don) kind of threw me for a loop because we were supposed to go later in the week. But because it has been so warm, the track is suuuuper slow. Hence, the “perfect” time to go from the top! I was pretty nervous, but today went well. I improved my time on each run and tried to fix some things. (The operative word here is tried.)

That’s all for now!