Is this real life?

I’ll start this post off with the good news….

…I made the 2011- 2012 U.S. National Skeleton team!

I placed 5th overall during team trials, placing me on the ICC Circuit (Inter-Continental Cup) which is considered the National Team!

It was a tough last few races during Team Trials not only because it determined what circuit you would be racing on for the year, but also because many of us had to pack up and leave today for Park City, UT for an International Training Week and two America’s Cup races (In fact, I’m actually writing this blog post on the plane as we speak…it’s a 5 hour flight, so bear with me).  I spent about 3 hours post-race cutting out hard pink insulation foam to make a “coffin” to place my sled in before stuffing it into a bad for travel.  Note to self: NEVER EVER leave this until the night before EVER AGAIN.  This seriously was the bane of my existence.  A broken razor blade, copious expletives, three mental breakdowns and the biggest explosion of foam this side of the Mississippi, and my sled finally made it into the bag.  I literally get mad just thinking about the experience.

Anyway, after the Park City races, we’ll drive about 14 hours north to Calgary, Canada for a week including two more America’s Cup races.  Now, if you’re confused at this point as to why I’m racing AC races, here’s why: In order to be eligible for the National Team, a slider must complete their 5-3-2.  This means (5) races on (3) tracks within (2) years.  I competed in one race last year at the end of the season in Lake Placid in March, so in order for me to slide the ICC races that I ranked for, I first need to qualify.  So, once I complete the Park City and Calgary races, I’ll be all set for this season.  After Calgary, we’re all driving back down to Park City to return the rental car and fly back East.  I’ll actually be flying home (like, Denver, PA home) for the Thanksgiving holiday.  After Thanksgiving I’ll drive back up to Lake Placid to train for about a week before flying overseas to Lillehammer, Norway and then to Sigulda, Latvia.  At the conclusion of Sigulda, I’ll fly home for the Christmas.  Second half of the season I’ll hit up Calgary and Park City again, this time on ICC to finish out the circuit.  And now I need to take a breath.

It’s really easy for me to type out all of the information I know so far about what my tour will consist of and where I’ll be going and what I’ll be doing, but I’m seriously still processing.  At the end of my first full skeleton season, I’ll have competed in 12 races on 4 brand new tracks.  HOLY CRAP.  Talk about new experiences.  I mean, up until this point in my life, I’ve never left the county nor have I ever flown over an ocean.  I’ll finally get to use my passport!  It’s literally going to be one heck of a season this year, chock full of new adventures and life lessons, and as nervous/anxious/scared as I may be, I can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and sent many positive thoughts my way….I really appreciate it!!!


USADA & Race Results

No, that’s not a cool acronym for skeleton or some motivational motto to get you fired up before you slide.  It stands for the United States Anti-Doping Agency.  And I know that because this kid got her very first skeleton drug test today.  Yep, you heard me, I had to pee in a cup in front of a stranger (which let me tell you from experience, is always AWKWARD).

This isn’t my first go-round with drug testing.  I have been drug tested by my college, American University, as well as the NCAA throughout my field hockey career.  However, AU usually gives a 24 hour notice and the NCAA always tests after NCAA tournament games, so it’s not a shocker when you get picked.  Today USADA met us at the finish dock at the bottom of the track after our final run and announced that 1st, 2nd and 5th place winners would be drug tested.  Here’s where I fit into that equation:  I placed 5th!  I was really psyched about my finish and didn’t care so much that I had to get tested except for one small problem:  I had literally just used the bathroom before my final run.  My tank was empty and there was no way I was going to need a bathroom for a good, long time. The ladies who finished ahead of me had the same dilemma.  So, 2 bottles of water and 45 minutes later, I finally had a sample to give the Control Officer.

Fortunately, all of the ladies from USADA were really nice and very patient given the fact that it took FOREVER for me to get a sample.  Otherwise the overall process was very quick and efficient and felt oddly official given that it wasn’t an FIBT-sanctioned race, but a U.S. team trial race.  I guess USADA is just good at their job.

Anyway, Monday through Wednesday of this week will be official training.  We’ll race on Thursday and Friday for the final 2 races of my first ever team trial.  So glad it’s almost over….all the anxiety is exhausting!  And thank you again to all the friends and family who sent positive thoughts my way!

Race #1 Results

I placed 5th!

Tonight’s race was anxiety-filled as we all waited around the OTC for what felt like FOREVER for our first team trial race tonight at 7pm.  We got to the track pretty early because the women’s parc ferme closed at 6:15pm.  The parc ferme is a fancy name for the area where you are permitted to work on your sled prior to the race.  Your sled sits here until the race begins.  Once the parc ferme closes, you are no longer allowed near your sled, you may not touch your sled or complete any more work.  It’s better to get to the track early so that you can do all the work you need to your sled without freaking out about whether or not you have enough time.  So basically we put rock in our sled (another lesson– rock = bend in runner….higher rock (or bend) means less runner touches ice and you go faster) and sat around AGAIN until it was time to warm up.  Talk about exhausting.

Anyway, my first run I pushed a 5.62 – which I was not happy about – and had a downtime of 58.94.  It should have been a lot faster but I literally almost died out of Curve 10.  I’m still trying to process what happened but I flew out and into the left wall and felt like I was half propped on the wall and half on the ice.  It was scary.  Because of that exit, my curves 11 & 12 were crap, but I regained momentum in 14.  Unfortunately, I scrubbed a lot of time in 10 and sat in a tie for 6th place after my first run.

My second run was MUCH cleaner and I ran a 58.87 (I think) and pushed a 5.59.  At this point, the ice was slowing down so I was really pleased.  After this run I finished in 5th place!  As previously mentioned, depending on where you finish during team trials determines what circuits you race on during the year.  So 5th is a good thing!

So thank you to everyone’s well wishes, kind thoughts, and Gram’s chat with the Big Man. I really think your positive power helped!  I’d really appreciate it if you could do the same for tomorrow…..Team Trials Race #2 starts at 4pm!

No Race today…

It’s been a little hectic lately with video sessions, track walks and sliding– not to mention prepping for a race that didn’t happen today– so that’s why I haven’t updated as much. But here’s the new news.

Today’s race was cancelled because of warm weather.  It got up to about 60 degrees today and essentially turned the track into a water park.  Because of the melting and the work they’ll need to complete to make it race-ish ready, we won’t compete until this Saturday and Sunday.  Tomorrow (Friday) we’ll all get one training run basically to see what profiles of the track have changed prior to our races.  These races are super important because based on how we rank – and some coaches discretion- determines what circuits we compete on.  Fortunately, I’ve been sliding well this past week so fingers crossed for cold weather and great results this weekend!

As an addition to last week’s post, I have some photos of the bruises I’ve received from my sled so far.  Note: these are NOT from me hitting walls.  Well, they sort of are.  When I hit a wall (or when the track was just really bumpy early on) I got bruises from jostling around in my sled and hitting my hips on the saddle.  For those who don’t know, the saddle is the padded metal bars that hold you in the sled.  I’m also bruising my biceps on the outside of my saddle.  Perhaps I should pad those too…

Anyway, above is my right bicep and to the left is my left bicep.  Below these are photos of my left and right hip.  Luckily my hips don’t actually hurt too much, they just look awful.  I got those marks literally from one run (which was actually a super fast time!) where Curve 12 wasn’t friendly and shot me flying off the end of it and into the right wall of 13.  Needless to say, it hurt a lot and I needed a minute after that run to gather my thoughts because I literally wanted to find some C4 and blow the dang thing up. More to come later, and check back for team trial race #1 results on Saturday…race is at 7pm!

Holy Bruises, Batman!

Yesterday was a rough day.  First of all, we don’t usually slide on Saturdays but being that we had one day on the ice this week, they were able to schedule us in since it was cooler despite rain.  We weren’t able to slide on Friday because of warm temps and rain.  And Ho-ly crap was the track faster today.

Not like, running track records fast but when you go from 1:11s to 1:00 (or less) it’s a little bit of a shock.  I didn’t realize how much faster the track was until I got into Curve 4 on a high line and couldn’t pick my head up.  At that point I knew crap was about to hit the fan.

I was fine until I reached Curve 10 and from there a little hell broke loose (I say a little because things didn’t go all ape crazy, but they definitely weren’t chillin’).  I came out of 10 a little too early and was pushed into the left wall.  This isn’t usually a problem, but because the track was super bumpy today, it didn’t bode so well.  I got popped out of my saddle twice and on the second I landed hard with my hip onto my saddle.  I got rocked by Curve 12 and was still smarting from the initial injury and I just wanted the run to be over.  Like, pull the brakes (which we don’t have) and get me off.

By the time I finished, the track worker who pulled my sled onto the walkway to get me off the track so the next slider could go, had to ask me if I was okay.  I needed a minute to pull myself together and have my hips stop burning before walking to the finish dock. However, I ran a 58.88!  This happened to be a very good time so I was really pleased with myself for pulling it out despite the run hurting.  I now have bruises on both hips, knees as well as a really nasty one on my left bicep that is currently purple, blue and red and the pores within the bruise are turning purple.  UGH.

Overall, I had a really good day and I think the coaches were impressed which is always a good thing.  But I’ll definitely need to make sure to spend extra time icing the damage tomorrow!  And sorry Gram for breaking your rule! At least good times came out of it, right?


Day 1 Complete (and a photo of my sled!)

Day 1 of sliding down, and I’m feeling pretty good. The day started off super stressful because it took me FOREVER to pad my sled, literally right up until we left for the track. The pad job is a little ghetto, and I still have some metal exposed that I need to cover, but it was manageable.  This didn’t leave me a whole lot of time to lay on my sled (so that I get accustomed to the new saddle and realize where I need to be on the sled) so I was a little nervous about that.

The track was really slow today — as in, I set a personal record — for my slowest time ever down the track.  My first run was around a 1:11 (I think) and I think my second run was a 1:08. The track got a little faster on the second run because we ran off most of the frost.  It was a good first day back overall, and the slower ice was nice so that we could get used to sliding again.

Anyway, as promised, here is a picture of my sweet sled! Hillary finished it up around 10pm last night, and let it dry out in the hallway since it would have made us all high had we kept it in the room.  I love the paint job AND it still looks pretty even after sliding today.  Yessss!

I’ll see what I can do about getting video tomorrow of sliding.  Overall the track is just really slow because it’s so warm up here so it’s almost not worth it to record because nothing will be fast.  Keep your fingers crossed as we continue to slide….next Thursday is our first competition for team trials.  Let’s hope I’m ready!



I saw ice!

There wasn’t a ton, but we have ice!  Tonight we took our very first track walk and it was very exciting.  Although the track looks a lot different from the last time any of us were on it, we’re all pretty anxious to finally get on the ice tomorrow.

My sled will be dry by tomorrow morning and ready for me to finish padding, which feels a little rushed, but will be totally worth it.  I have a shot of Hillary working on the sled on Tuesday, as well as a few shots of just the bare bones of my sled.  It’s scary that that’s what we slide on!





Tomorrow I’ll make sure to post some photos of the pod of my sled. It’s really bright and obnoxious and awesome. Seriously.  I’ll also let you know how the first day back goes! (hopefully I’m still around and able to use all appendages….)

No Sliding til Thursday!

Because it’s too nice outside.  Yes, you heard me right, it’s too nice.  With the temps being up in the 60s-70s range yesterday and today (and potentially the rest of the week) the track workers are having difficulty keeping ice on the track.  So until then, we sit around the OTC working out, eating, and generally just sitting around.  It’s a little boring.

Anyway, I’ll do a tempo workout, and then maybe head out to the push track for a couple of pushes.  Other than that, it’s just sitting around waiting for the ice to set, which is kind of like watching paint dry.

Speaking of which, I’m getting my sled painted!  A bobsledder named Hillary is a super good artist (you can check out some of her stuff here) and has been painting sleds for some of the sliders and they’ve turned out AWESOME.  So she’ll paint my sled today or tomorrow in time for the first session of the season! I’ve given her a color palette (which is slightly obnoxious, but really awesome) and told her to have fun, so I’m psyched to see what she’ll come up with.  And of course, I’ll make sure to post before and afters!

Because she’s painting my sled, I can’t really work on padding it yet. I started but had to take all the padding off and separate the frame from the fiberglass pod so that she can just have the pod to paint. I’m stoked! I’ll make sure to post before and afters!

Well, at least I made it to Placid?

To say that this weekend’s traveling has been an experience may be an understatement. I guess I should preface it with the title of this blog: “At least I made it.”

Getting ready for the long trip was really hectic and last minute and with a lot of freaking out.  I had a last minute oil change, snow tires thrown on the back and even a transmission filter change to prep for the 5 hours to my coach, and then 4 hours to Lake Placid.   Heck, I even cleaned my car! It was looking and feeling brand new.  If only looks were everything.  After stopping at a rest stop in New York, Chase (my teammate who came up with me for sledwork) and I noticed that my car was smoking.  Naturally, I flipped out but after chats with my mom and brother, we decided it was because of some plastic pipe that had cracked and my car was burning off the fluid.  No biggie (or so we thought) and on-ward we drove to Don’s.

Once at Don’s he checked my car and believes that the issue is with my transmission and that I’m essentially burning it up.  Turns out, after a chat with Mr. Mechanic who changed said transmission filter, my transmission is apparently going.  I assumed that would be pertinent information for a girl whose about to embark on a 9 hour trip up North….you know, something along the lines of “oh hey, by the way, your transmission is gonna blow soon” would have even worked.  Apparently not.

So my car is now in Fayetteville, NY at a dealer who will look at it Monday morning and figure out what’s up.  Fortunately, I was able to get a ride up with Chase in his car, but only after playing a real life game of Tetris to rearrange his car to fit our stuff, plus sleds and runners.  I don’t know how we managed it, but we fit it all even including his skis.  I had to sit with my backpack on my lap the entire ride, but we got here in one piece.

Tomorrow I’ll have time to hang out, especially since we’re not sliding.  It’s supposed to be 70 degrees tomorrow which is way to warm to slide.  Goodness.  I’ll update tomorrow with some pics of the new sled once I finish padding it and get it set to go!

What a weekend!

As I sit here trying to write this update, I’m at a slight loss for words.  So I guess I’ll start with this: THANK YOU.

Because of the generosity of all of the individuals who played or donated, as well as the businesses who donated prizes (and huuuuuge props to my grandmother Mary Jane who literally put this all together) we made enough to pay for nearly all of my sled!  So seriously, THANKS!

I’d also like to thank Sue Steffy and Tara Griest for helping to get us started, as well as Mary, Carl and Rick Graybill who got us all of the bingo supplies and helped us set up the day of.  I know I need to thank so many other individuals and businesses, so for those, keep an eye on your mailboxes!

I also need to take the time to thank Darrel Steffy of Steffy Concrete.  He started off the weekend with a Texas Hold’em tournament on Saturday and generously donated the proceeds of the tournament to me! Because of his donation, plus the proceeds of the bingo night, I can successfully pay off my entire sled.  That’s right, the whole dang thing! Again, THANK YOU! (I’m trying to set a world record of how many times I can say thank you here….and even after that, I’m not sure it would even be enough!)

Anyway, this week will be just as eventful as the weekend.  I work 2 days this week, and then I’ll spend the rest of my time packing and getting my life together to get up to Lake Placid for team trials.  For those who don’t know, team trials start this Monday, October 10th and run for three weeks.  Over the course of this time, races will be held and at the end, they decide which sliders make which circuits.  I’ll leave for Fair Haven, New York this Saturday to visit my coach, who also happens to be a sled builder, so that he can fit me for the saddle of my sled.  I’ll leave from there on Sunday for Lake Placid to check into the OTC and get situated for the first day back on ice! Eeek!