Combine? Check.

OK ok ok! So I know some of you have been asking how the combine went yesterday. Let me begin by explaining what the combine is. Basically it is 8 events, and each is scored on a 100 point scale. So the max score you can possibly receive is 800 points. In order to be eligible to slide as a new slider, you must score a minimum of 650 points. Last year I scored a total of 727 points. This year I scored…

767!!

Boom! I am so pumped and am really excited for the season to begin. It’s practically September and I can’t wait to get back on the ice.

Let me give you a play-by-play of the combine.

So the first 4 scores are from sprinting. It consists of a 15m, 30m, 45m, and a 30m fly. You get the 30m fly time by subtracting the 15m time from the 45m time. I am going to give the event, the result, how much of a PR from the last combine it was, and then the total points I received from that particular event.

15m – 2.33 seconds (PR by .04) — 91 points
30m – 3.96 seconds (PR by .16) — 98 points
45m – 5.68 seconds (PR by .18) — 99 points
30m fly – 3.32 seconds (PR by .18) — 100 points

The 30m time is considered to be the most looked at mark of the sprinting events, and I was told that the team’s record for it from a skeleton female was previously 3.99 seconds. That’s a .03 improvement! And the 30m fly time is also almost a full .10 seconds off the score chart. For those of you who are unfamiliar with sprinting times, these increases are good. To PR by over a tenth in anything this short of a sprint is great. We had done some testing earlier in the summer and the times were marginally better. I felt pretty solid going into yesterday, but haven’t tested too much so I didn’t know exactly where I would be at. I can’t be more happy with the improvements.

Onto the next events:

Broad Jump — 2.62 meters/ 8’7″ (PR by .12 meters) — 90 points
Shot Toss — 13.74 meters/ 45’1″ (PR by… 1.84 meters) — 98 points

It is a bit funny to me that the broad jump is my worst event of the combine and I was actually jumper. But you know what? I’ll take it. It is not nearly as bad as it was last year. I enlisted a bit of help last week and that seemed to do the trick. But the shot toss… I have no idea where that came from. Seriously. No. idea. I mean, I just whaled it out there on the 3rd toss. Perfect trajectory. Did the trick.

Vid of a broad jump from last week:

After a brief hiatus, we took off to the weight room to partake in the last events. Power Clean and a 3-repetition squat max.

Power Clean — 80kg / 176 lbs (PR by 8kg) — 94 points
3-rep Squat — 100kg / 220 lbs (PR by 5kg) — 97 points

Vid for 79 kg from last week:

This was a PR last week (I know I posted a vid of 78 kg from last spring) but I just barely managed to get 80 kg up yesterday. On this vid, I irritated something in my right thumb, and the cleaning from yesterday inflamed the muscles quit a bit. I mean, the rep from yesterday could have been the messiest clean I have ever done in my life. But you know what? I ended up getting it. All that matters.

Finally the squats. I was pretty much beat at this point. I did 100kg because last week I did 95kg pretty easily. I thought I might be able to go a bit higher, but in order to get any more points, you had to jump up to 107kg. I picked it up off the rack, went down on the first rep and then began to ascend only to fall victim to 236 lbs and gravity. Ambrose (a strength coach) helped me hoist it back onto the rack and viola. I was done.

With a grand total of 767 points. I feel great. I can’t wait to get to sliding. I gave my sled to Don and will be getting a new saddle (the part I lay in) and pod (the plastic part on the bottom). I am going to have to re-pad it, but I will give her a nice tune up in a few weeks and get going on the ice as soon as it gets cold enough. As soon as that pod gets added, I will be able to add the names of Mark Armour and the Chang/Salmon family to the bottom of the sled for their generous donation a few months ago.

I will leave you with some push track vids:

And a second one with a better view of the load. There is definitely still work to be done here, but I do feel more comfortable now.

I will keep you guys posted with some more push track vids as they come! Thank you everyone for the support and good luck yesterday. It was an amazing way to get started.

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National Championships!

Ok. So it’s been a while and I’m going to have to break up what has happened into a few different posts. I’m going to start with the most recent events (US National Championships) and then in the next post tell you about the World Championships. Both of these events deserve a well rounded post and I don’t want to short anything! All of the pictures are courtesy of Nick Crumpton (what else is new? He takes lots of pics and then I steal them.)

So, this past weekend Lake Placid hosted the National Championships! Aside from being… you know… Nationals, it is a very important event for all of the new sliders. New sliders who do well are more likely to get invited to participation in Team Trials next fall. And team Trials are what decide what circuit you will race on. There are 4 circuits (World Cup, Inter-Continental Cup, Europa Cup and America’s Cup). If I don’t want to be stuck in Lake Placid all season, I need to make a circuit next year.

My parents and a friend (Kevin) came up to watch me compete on Saturday and Sunday in the 4-heat race. It was great seeing them and the only thing better would have been if they brought my cat up too. Here’s Chirp:

Erik and Gracie, this picture of my cat is for you guys. I felt the post would not be complete without the mention of a cat.

I had some ups and downs while forunning for World Championships so I was a bit nervous going into official training. But after official training I felt pretty good for day 1 on Saturday. The weather was amicable and the ice was soft but fast. My first run was a PR start and downtime of 5.48 and 57.48, respectively. That put me in 11th going into heat 2. Not exactly what I was looking for. My steers in the first run were just too strong. I was too antsy on the sled and overcompensated for a few steers which cost me some time. Run 2 proved to be much cleaner as I recorded a new PR downtime of 57.27 and I moved up 4 spots into 7th place going into Day 2. Much better.

The temperature dropped 15 degrees on Sunday. It was in the low 20s during competition and the ice was super hard and subsequently faster than on the previous night. I took my first run and PRd again with a downtime of 57.18! But my time bumped me back into 8th place by .01 seconds.

Uh-oh! Even though I had PRd, I had dropped a place and had another race (America’s Cup at the end of the month) on the line. I had kept my rock the same from Saturday to Sunday. Rock is the amount of bow in the runners. The more the runners are bowed, the less friction there is on the ice and the faster you will go. But because there is less friction, there is also less control and it is easier to skid. Since the ice was soft on Saturday and really hard on Sunday I skidded quite a bit on that 3rd run. Despite the PR, it was not a particularly clean run.

During the Parc Ferme (this is the allotted amount of time you have to work on the sled before and in between runs) I lowered my rock a touch and got ready to try and fix the errors I had made for run 4. The nerves I deal with for skeleton are on another level compared to the ones I dealt with for Long/Triple Jump. I think part of that will taper just because by the time I graduated from college I was very confident in my abilities. I am still so new to skeleton and one lapse of judgment can easily mess up an entire run.

Run 4 had much less skidding. I managed to PR by 4 more hundredths and put down a 57.14. The time moved me back up into 7th place and I finished the race in that position. How does this compare to the rest of the field? There were 18 competitors and a few of the girls who I beat were on the America’s Cup and Europa Cup circuits this past season. I am really pleased with the results and have been given the opportunity to compete in my first international race at the end of the month! The last race of the season is an America’s Cup race in Lake Placid and because I was the first of the new development athletes to come in, I was give one of the 4 spots to race for the US!

Complete results from Nationals can be found here.

As far as other women racing, there were some really stellar performances. The others participating are all fierce competitors and I can only imagine what it will be like on an international level. Hats of to Megan Henry (who won) for blasting the sled off the block in a really impressive fashion.

So what does this mean for me? It means I’m in Lake Placid for another 3 weeks training for the America’s Cup race. Then I’m back home for the summer! I took today off and am getting back after it tomorrow. A lot of people left Lake Placid for the season including 2 of my good friends here (Andia and Erik). Womp 😦 In addition to the America’s Cup race I got invited to participate in FIBT school. The FIBT is the international governing body for bobsled and skeleton. They have a school every year for new international development athletes to go to. So all of the other good development athletes from around the world will fly into Lake Placid and get coached by other international coaches. I’m pretty excited to meet more skeleton athletes who are also at the beginning of their careers.

I’ll post another update about forrunning for the World Championships. The athletes I was surrounded by for the week of Worlds were top notch! It was an amazing experience.

On another note, I did a “Where Are They Now?” interview with the Southern Conference! Watch it HERE.

Sorry for the lack of updates recently… it has been super hectic. I will get a post up about Worlds shortly!

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.