Sliding again!

In a winter sport that takes place on a man-made ice track, there are some problems that occasionally crop up that make it impossible to slide.

Weather is sometimes our biggest foe here in Lake Placid, and sometimes it helps us. For the first part of this camp, it’s the former. Wednesday and Thursday, the weather was in the 40s, raining, with winds up to 50mph. The wind was powerful enough to rip some of the guard curtains off of the track, exposing it to the weather. As such, the track was closed and we couldn’t slide.

For our enjoyment/workout pleasure, our coach arranged for a couple of instructors from Kuk Sool Won to come and teach us focus techniques and some basic punches and kicks. It was the first time I’ve ever done martial arts, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it!

It was an interesting change of pace and a pretty good workout. I enjoyed it so much, I’d like to take more classes, but unfortunately, locations are inconvenient. However, Don (my coach) mentioned they might come up once a month to do more lessons in the winter!

We did a pretty awesome workout where we had to get into the “horse” stance with a pole (kinda like a quarter-staff) balanced on our thighs, kind of like a squat, and we had to sit like that for a minute. If we dropped the pole (if we stood up or gave up), we had to do pushups for the remainder of the time. I kept mine on the whole time, and felt like I could have gone at least 30 seconds more.

Yesterday, we had our first sliding session of the camp. I was in the second group, so slid from 4-6pm. In the morning, I did a weight lifting session, which was pretty challenging, considering I had been doing two of the four lifts slightly wrong.

While in the weight room, I also got to watch Katie Uhlaender do some treadmill pushes. Pretty cool to watch an Olympian, and even better because I got to see good form in a push.

Sliding was, of course, awesome. We started at Start 3, where I ended last time I was here. I was a little disappointed we weren’t going from the top, but Don explained that if he had his way, everyone would start from 3 until they knew the track perfectly. I completely agree, though it’s taking a little longer for me to memorize the track than I want.

My first run, I was distracted by my helmet, which fit weird and was brushing against my mouth guard oddly. I felt completely disoriented and tense, but Don told me my form was good, and I took the right lines almost completely. Who’da thought? I was proud that I got through the Chicane clean!

My second run, I focused on form, and trying to relax. I was relaxed until Curve 12, when I hit pretty badly on my right side. I came off of 11 wrong and smacked my right shoulder into the ice, then the force of the impact was so great that I was almost catupaulted off my sled. As I tried to get back on it, my right ankle and leg hit the wall as well. My thoughts in the split second that it happened: “Ouch! Shit…OUCH! Shit. Get back on line. Focus! Relax. Look at the corner.”Another clean run through the Chicane!

I did realize around the third run that I knew better where I was, and was more aware of where I hit (another right shoulder hit on 12, and then pinballed in the Chicane). It was comforting to know that I could remember when a turn was coming, though I can be a LOT better.

My fourth run felt like my best. I held my form, and didn’t brush my toes against the ice as much as I normally do. I went cleanly through the Chicane (though not as relaxed as I could have been) and only got a slight brush off of 19.

The fifth run was awful. The track was slow as heck, and I got really beat up, on the same curves that I was hit in the previous runs. It was a frustrating run to end the night on, but generally, after four runs, I get really, REALLY tired. Even four runs is pushing the limit.

It doesn’t seem like skeleton would be that hard to do…I mean, the majority of the physical work is in the first 6 seconds, on the push. But for the other 50 seconds, your body is being pounded by G forces, and ricocheted off corners. It’s rather brutal, and even elite athletes only take two or three runs in a session.

Today, I woke up with a sore back from lifting on Friday. I had a little headache but not too bad. It took a while longer than usual to get out of bed. After breakfast, I booked a plane ticket home for Christmas, then retreated to my room to begin my day off from sliding.

What do athletes do on an off day? Well, work out, and watch Harry Potter. All day long. After a short sprint workout in the gym, my rommmate, Lindsey, and I watched the Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family.

At two, several teammates and I went to the Lake Placid theatre and saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. For the movie, and a small bag of goodies, I spent 7.25, four dollars LESS than I would have spent on a movie ticket in Virginia. CRAZY!

Tonight, a few athletes are going to play volleyball in the OTC gym, but I’m passing it up because of my sore back. I’d like to be well rested before tomorrow’s sliding session. So for now, Harry Potter continues.

Oh, there is a campaign going on with Pepsi, as the US Bobsled and Skeleton Federation is trying to win $250,000 to support its development program. One of the severely underfunded and under publicized sports in the country, skeleton is extremely expensive (an average sled costing around $5,000) so this grant from Pepsi would help development athletes like myself to succeed in our goal for Olympic Gold.

You can help! A simple vote is all it takes! Visit http://www.refresheverything.com/goingforgold and click “Vote for This Idea”. You can log in via Facebook or make a quick account. Best of all, you can vote once a day! The top two voted causes win!

Thanks for reading, and as always, keep sliding!

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