This is the only way to describe the last couple of days.
For those who don’t follow me on Facebook, you will be pleased to know that I have now slid from the top of the Mt. Vanhovenburg Bobsled and Skeleton track. Five times.
Five runs in two days might not sound that impressive, but let me tell you the physics of it.
Last night, we held a consistency race, which is just to see how consistently we can slide the track. There was also an added challenge to push at 100%, because the two women who threw down the fastest pushes would be selected to pilot a World Cup sled.
What THAT is, is this. Before the World Cup races begin, the track sends two or three sliders down so that athletes competing can see the grooves on the start, the correct lines to take, and the speed of the track. Being a pilot is a huge honor, particularly for a beginning slider and is quite prestigious.
So, not only were some of us sliding from the top for only the fourth and fifth time ever, we were also sprinting the first 50m as fast as we could, fighting to earn a spot to pilot.
Back to the physics: starting as fast as you can on an ice track sounds difficult, and it is, even with spikes. The faster you go on your start means the faster you enter Curve 1. With world-class athletes, a good or bad push will make or break a race, or medal.
Around Curve 4, the G-Forces hit your body hard. Your head is pushed into the ice, and you’re fighting to breathe. As soon as the pressure lifts, your head, if not controlled, will rocket up. By Curve 10, known as Shady II (170 degree turn) the pressure is so hard that you can’t pick up your head if you tried.
At any point around the track, if you make a wrong steer, you’ll hit a wall, then pinball off another wall, causing your sled to hit a line wrong. If done correctly, you’ll ride high on the curves and straight through the straightaways.
To sum up, sliders throw their bodies as fast as they can down an ice chute, where around curves they’ll hit up to 4-Gs of force, which is four times your body weight. With all the jostling and pressure, headaches form readily. After most sliding days, everyone has headaches, neck-aches or some kind of pain in their bodies. Even the most elite sliders take only two runs in a training session.
My consistancy wasn’t that great, mostly because I improved by almost a second and a half on my second slide, but as long as I got better, I was happy.
Me sliding after my first “push” from the top
So after “the talk” with Don this morning, I’ve found out that I’m not piloting a sled for World Cup. It’s a little disappointing, but totally makes sense for a slider who has only gone from the top a handful of times to not slide before one of the biggest international races in the world besides the Olympics.
On the good side, Don’s outlook for my future is very good. I have good progression and he sees some great things in my future. The first of which is a sled that he will be fitting to me over the Christmas break. It is one of Rebecca Sorensen’s World Cup sled, which is pretty cool. I will also be in Lake Placid from 16 January-3 April, which is the entire sliding season and am on track to possibly slide in an America’s Cup race at the end of the season.
The outlook is good, I’m excited and pleased to be doing this, even though it is a little scary sometimes. I’m still looking for donations and will be doing fund raising over the winter, but I have a bright future in this sport, and I’m looking forward to pursuing it.
Slide on, my friends!