National Push Champion!

Ok, so not the most eloquent title for this blog post, but that’s some pretty big news, right? It’s been about a month since I have updated and have stayed up in Lake Placid at the Olympic Training Center for most of the time. The next big event for me was the National Push Championships. I think I’ve showed you guys a few videos of the push track, but basically we have a sled on wheels that sits on top of some tracks. There are timers set up and we push the sled to see how fast we can get it moving. The championships were yesterday… and I won! Yay!

We took 2 pushes each and I had the fastest combined time. In addition, I set a women’s track record for fastest push at the push track. The men also had a track record with Mitch Danbe (on push 2) but the title was won by John Daly. Pretty sure this is his 4th or 5th title. They are building a new push track for us right behind the OTC which is where the bobsledders will have their push champs next Friday and Saturday.

Women’s
1) Veronica Day (Push 1) 5.35 (Push 2) 5.31 (Total) 10.66
2) Lauren Salter (Push 1) 5.41 (Push 2) 5.34 (Total) 10.75
3) Caitlin Carter (Push 1) 5.44 (Push 2) 5.41 (Total) 10.85

Men’s
1) John Daly (Push 1) 4.85 (Push 2) 4.85 (Total) 9.7
2) Mitch Danbe (Push 1) 4.88 (Push 2) 4.83 (Total) 9.71
3) Nathan Crumpton (Push1) 4.85 (Push 2) 4.88 (Total) 9.73

I’ve been out at the push track A LOT. I am glad it has paid off. Here are a few videos of practice sessions. I just got an iphone (my first smart phone… and I have no idea how to use it) and there are probably 15 videos of me at the push track. One of the first apps I downloaded was a slow-motion one. It’s called coachmyvideo, was free… and it is amazing for this kind of stuff.

A vid of the load:

Start Drills:

So what does this mean for the future? Nothing really, except that I have proved myself as a push athlete. Push championships for bobsled brakemen are super important since their sole job is to push the sled as fast as possible. They typically get picked up by drivers depending on how well they perform at push champs.

But since skeleton athletes are not on teams, the same individual pushing is also driving. While pushing is a very important variable, driving is a bigger one. I have begun doing video for Lake Placid since we get on the ice in 2 weeks. It is definitely going to be a shock to the system. It has been 6 months since I’ve been down on the ice and when I watch video it baffles me how fast we go. My eyes are going to need to adjust big time. I’m definitely a bit nervous but we’re just going to have to wait and see how it goes. All I can do is study until we get back on the ice.

In the past month I also went to my sled maker’s house to give my sled a bit of a face lift. She’s got a shiny red pod now! In addition, I got a saddle (the part I lay in) custom made for my body. I need to re-pad the whole sled which is a huge pain in the butt, but I definitely think it’ll be worth it. I bought a sweet patterned yoga mat from yogamatic.com. My roommate (Kristina Hull) custom designed her last year for her sled and even though they are expensive, I definitely think it’ll be worth it. I used regular camping foam last year and ended up having to tape the whole top of the sled because the foam kept tearing. This yoga mat I bought is a bit stiff, so I don’t foresee it tearing as easy. Plus the tape is $65 a roll. Ouch.

I will leave you guys with a picture of the the new pod on my sled!

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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!