#LaPlagneGate and World Cup #6 & #7: Igls

This is a tough blog to write.

It’s been a rough week.  Honestly, it’s been a rough second half.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around this past weekend, but I guess I’ll start from the beginning, which takes us back to last week in La Plagne.

The view from our hotel in La Plagne

The view from our hotel in La Plagne

Long story short, our World Cup race last week in La Plagne, France was cancelled due to ice conditions.  Many nations arrived to the 1992 Olympic track a day early for some paid training only to find the track in rough condition.   La Plagne is a high pressure track, so it’s imperative that the ice is smooth, which it definitely was not.  There were many poor patch jobs down the track that were dry and had not been shaved/smoothed out.  I won’t lie- I was pretty nervous for that first day.  I was prepared and ready to slide, but seeing the ice in that condition was very concerning. But, I put that discomfort aside, took my training run and though a little bumpy, the track was just fine.

We saw a lot of the same throughout the week, and only had one day of official training. However, the ice was perfectly fine that day.  Unfortunately, many nations complained of the conditions which turned the men’s competition into a one-heat race and cancelled the women’s race altogether.  While I value safety (which I know sounds a little “pot calling the kettle black” considering my sport) I personally believe the track was completely fine.  I showed up on race day ready to go, despite only have three total runs down the track.  I think the FIBT- the governing body of our sport- was a too sensitive and soft in their decision to cancel, but I digress.

We didn't slide much that week, but we did take a gondola to the top of the French Alps to a glacier ice castle.

We didn’t slide much that week, but we did take a gondola to the top of the French Alps to a glacier ice castle.

Essentially after a week-long vacay in France, we packed up and drove to Igls, Austria for our next race.  It was here that the FIBT jury decided that the women would do a double race to make up for last week’s cancellation.

I’ve slid in Igls before and while I think that Austria is incredibly beautiful and I love the area, I find the track incredibly boring.  It’s a low-pressure, gliding track that I am incredibly hit-or-miss with.  And this past week was most definitely miss.

My slides down the track were always slightly off, and I came away from each training day and video session more and more frustrated, which in turn caused me to try even harder.  “Trying” is not how one slides fast; flowing freely and working with the track is how speed is accomplished.

On race day I saw very little of that.  I’ll spare you the gory details, but I placed 20th on Saturday, and 18th on Sunday.  My pushes were terrible, my runs were terrible, and embarrassingly enough, those runs will be available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube, forever.

From the first race day in Igls

From the first race day in Igls

I think the biggest frustration second half has been that I’ve felt “off my game.”  I know what it feels like to go fast and to feel so in the zone that it’s as though nothing else exists but the track; my body reacting to the conditions and my mind trusting that my body will produce the correct steers and adjustments.  You get down to the bottom of the track and you almost can’t remember what happened because you were just so in it: a complete state of flow.

I’m struggling right now to find my way back to that.  That place where, with a clear mind, nothing else matters but the task at hand.  I’ve been feeling a lot of negativity and disapproval lately and I’m not handling it well.  I internalize just about everything, and it’s all starting to compound and snowball.  So, I think the first task at hand to move past this weekend and to focus on how to confront and process the source of those feelings and move forward.

So anyway, it’s off to Sochi, Russia for the final World Cup race of the season before World Championships.  I’m incredibly excited to slide the track that was host to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games just last year and to experience Russia.  Thank you all so much for continuing to follow my journey so far….there’s so much more to come that I can’t wait to share.


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