I hate learning experiences. Yes, you read that right, I hate learning experiences. Ya know, the kind when you’re in a situation where you want (and need) to succeed–but don’t–so you pick your angry self up and very nicely through gritted teeth chalk it up to a “learning experience.”
A.K.A You played like crap.
That’s how I felt after today’s race.
I guess I should start with updating about the latter end of the week here in Lillehammer, being that I’ve been a little lazy on the posts. Our final day of Official Training on Wednesday was absolutely nuts and epic. Seriously. Day 3 got off to a late start–by an hour. A doctor and ambulance are required on staff each day we train and compete as a precaution, in case any accidents do occur. Naturally, we cannot start until both on premises. The ambulance decided to come an hour late. Super.
The weather finally stepped it up to something comparable to typical Norwegian weather….cold. It was around 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit during that session, a far cry colder than what it had been. The colder weather made for a much faster track, and I had a very strong training day. I PR’d both runs and was finally starting to push faster. However, the track had a mind of its own and many sliders actually broke the visors on their helmets around Curve 13 on the track. One of the German girls even lost half of her visor! There was a 5 minute hold on the track so that workers could go in and find the other piece and get it out of the track. It was seriously crazy. I fortunately did not break my helmet (I really want to attribute that to my awesome skills, but I’m well aware it’s probably because my helmet is brand new and isn’t beat to hell yet) but I did bruise my chin pretty good and I bit my tongue really hard. The pressure in 13 was just so great that all I could do was tuck my head, and I ended up tucking it into my sled and pinning my neck/chin to the pod of my sled. So for now I have a double neck-chin. It’s pretty hot.
ICC Race #1 started off okay…my first run was decent, a new PR by a few hundreths, but there were a few mistakes I had made that I was eager to fix second run that I knew would find me some time. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. I look at race days as another training day– meaning I stay relaxed and although I’ll push like crazy, it’s like any other day. I don’t like to build them up and put pressure on them. Although I was relaxed, it felt like a completely new track. I made a few mistakes, but in curves that I didn’t have any problems with all week. It was very confusing and frustrating. The only thing I can chalk it up to is that my faster push was throwing off my lines. Needless to say, I placed 15th, dropping a few spots from where I was seated after my first run.
ICC Race #2 was another matter. While I was still calm and relaxed, I was mad. I was mad at how the previous day turned out and mad at the mistakes I made. I was determined today to finish better than the day before. Well, that and I didn’t want to have to jump in the river. See, we (the U.S. ICC sliders) made a bet that the lowest placing athlete today had to jump in the small creek/river settled right beside our hotel apartment. Naturally, I did NOT want to jump in the freezing water. At all. So the bet, paired with the determination to kick ass, was my motivation to perform better.
My first run saw my fastest push here thus far: a 5.36. I was really pleased with it, and then completely ruined the lead I gave myself. I made a mistake up top that definitely cost me a lot of time, and then I decided to bump early into Curve 15, get pushed away and then completely blitz the left wall (which wasn’t iced, it was wooden planks….and don’t ask me why) on the exit. It literally hurt so bad I spent all of finish Curve 16 with my head on the ice trying to hold in all the expletives I wanted to let out. I’m fairly positive that I took out half of the wood with me, so sorry to the slider who came after me and ran over my leftover wood splinters. My bad. The hit out of 15 cost me a lot of time, and I essentially dug myself a hole.
I was determined on my second– and final run in Lillehammer– to enjoy myself and be positive to improve upon my first run. While my push was just slightly slower (a 5.40) my run was a million times better than the first and was a faster downtime. Had I not dug the hole on my first run, I would have had a much better finish. My second run; however, didn’t quite go without a hitch. I went into Curve 13 late and paid dearly for it. I missed the first pressure entirely and couldn’t exactly catch the second because it was so hard. From the second I went into the Curve, my head was glued to the ice– which explains how everyone broke their visors–and I was unable to pick it up until the last 6 feet of the curve. At this point I looked up, saw that I was, oh, about 6 feet up on the exit and closing and fearing for my life. I literally put my head back down on the ice, closed my eyes, and hoped to God that I wouldn’t flip.
Fortunately, I didn’t and the tap I took on the left wall wasn’t all too unusual, but it was a pretty scary moment. It’s crazy how I can have such a sketch exit but still manage a good run, but a small mistake up top with cost you major time. Sigh.
Anyway, overall I know I can’t be disappointed with my time here in Lillehammer. Norway is beautiful, I had a great time with my teammates, and I know that as a second year slider, to get on all of these new tracks in such a short amount of time is an accomplishment in itself. But as an innate competitor and perfectionist, it’s hard to accept what I consider sub-par results. It has been a learning experience, but I like my learning experiences to end as perfect as possible, something I’m going to learn to need to get over. So for now, I’ll prep for Sigulda, Latvia and sit in the sauna (yep, our bathroom has a legit sauna) for a while to warm up from the cold dip I had to take earlier!
PS…also working on getting some photos up shortly!