2013 U.S. National Championships

Upon returning home from Europe, I initially meant to leave for Park City, UT for a three-week stint before returning back to Lake Placid at the end of February.  I then planned on sliding in Lake Placid in an International Training Week as well as the final race of the season, U.S. National Championships.

Well, my plans for Park City fell through (mainly due to cost effectiveness) and just 2 days after coming back from across the pond I found myself in my car enduring the 6.5 hour drive to LP!

I spent February working for ORDA- the Olympic Regional Development Authority- the group that runs all Olympic venues in Lake Placid, including the bobsled, skeleton and luge track at Mt. Van Hoevenberg.  There wasn’t a whole lot of sliding time available in LP, but as a resident athlete at the OTC, housing is free.  So I slid when track time was available and made some money in the meantime!

U.S. Nationals Athletes

U.S. Nationals Athletes

On to U.S. National Championships….National Championships are open to all U.S. male and female skeleton sliders.  The athlete with the lowest combined time over four heats is determined the winner.  That means you’ve gotta show up, ready to go on both race days.  One good run won’t win you this one.

Usually Nationals are a week-long, and end with us racing on the weekend.  A scheduling conflict at the OTC cut our Nationals down to four days- 2 official training days followed immediately by our 2 race days.  It was quite an adjustment!

I was excited for Nationals but my hips were not!  Pushing a skeleton sled is pretty rough on our hips; running bent over is not a normal function of our bodies and over the course of the season, it really takes its toll.  Typically, my hip flexors are very tight and require additional stretching, rehab and treatment.  By the time my season is complete, my hips are ready for a break!  This go round was no exception- pushing at the start was really difficult for me during Nationals and although I gave the best effort, it seemed like there was no power behind my stride and I felt like I was going nowhere!

Fortunately, I was able to thread together some decent runs over the course of the two days, and it was good enough for SILVER!  I say “decent” because I was not at my best throughout this racing series and I know that I have so much more to offer than what I showed.  While I’m pleased with ending the season on a positive note, I was really hoping to finish a bit stronger!

Now that Nationals are over, I’ll remain in Lake Placid for another week or so for some additional sliding before returning home for the month of April for some much needed family time and R&R!  The countdown to off-season training begins!


Europa Cup: Altenberg

The lateness on this post is pretty epic considering it was supposed to be up by the beginning of February but life and laziness got in the way (and the fact that my YouTube site wouldn’t upload my vids!) so here it is.  Posted a few hours before my National Championships blog post. Winning!

Okay, so Altenberg- really, REALLY cold.  I mean, my hair started to freeze, cold.  All joking aside, I had to do a lot of preparation for this track.  Altenberg is regarded as one of the toughest tracks on tour.  While speeds here are not super fast, the track is very technical and has several curves that can pick you up and spit you out.  If you don’t believe me, type in “Altenberg Skeleton Crash” into YouTube and take a look.  I accidentally came across a few of these gems when I was trying to find video of their Kriesel and seriously questioned my decision to slide here!

Speaking of which, here is training video of me at the exit of 9 and through Kriesel:

Here’s another video of kreisel (oscillating through this curve is normal!):

On to race results!

Race #1– I was excited and nervous for the first race day because I hadn’t tried pushing hard all week and a faster push can really change lines down the track.  I ended up PR pushing (6.22) and nabbed a PR downtime (1:01.97) on my first run and was feeling pretty good.  And then, the second run happened.

As previously mentioned, several curves here can be a real jerk.  Curves 4, 9, 10 (Kriesel), 11-12 and 14 can all flip you with various degrees of pain.  Curve 4 is the only curve that doesn’t hurt to flip out of and everyone at some point will exit 4 and take the entrance of Curve 5 like a ramp and go over on their back.  You’re not moving fast so it doesn’t hurt, but sliding on your back is a serious time killer (obviously).  All of my teammates rolled out of 4 at least once during training.  I didn’t.  You guess what happened.

I flipped.

Yuuuuup.  I had a decent run going and then I was on my back.  I was so surprised by it I lost where I was (I’m usually not looking at the ceiling when I slide!) and didn’t know right away which way I should try flip back over.  It wasn’t until my back hit the wall before 6 that I figured it out and went on my merry way.  Slowly.  While I was mad I waited until race day to take the inaugural flip it did teach me that crashing (although crashing is defined as losing your sled!) isn’t as awful as I thought, especially after last year’s mishap in Latvia.  It happens, you get back on, and you go!

Race #2–   I PR pushed (6.18!) and slid another PR downtime (1:01.32)!  I pushed 6.18 again on my second run- which was awesome since I’ve found I don’t always push as consistently as I would like on my second run- and was within a tenth of my first run, even though my run was seriously awful.  It wasn’t a clean run and I had a lot of little mistakes.

Overall I’m pretty pumped about my time in Altenberg.  I always learn so much with every new track I go to and I feel like I’ve come away with new lessons and a better understanding for sliding.  I can’t wait to apply these lessons on familiar tracks!