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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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.