For those who haven’t seen it, below is the story that the Idyllwild Town Crier wrote about me, featured on the front page of the 12.30.10 edition. My first “press” with skeleton! I will say, it was great fun to talk to JP about the sport. I love explaining the nuances and seeing the reactions I get! A huge thanks to JP and the Town Crier!
Salter slides on sled
Lauren Salter, that nice little girl from Idyllwild, is growing up and spending time with a fast crowd. Having graduated from Northern Arizona University less than a year ago, she’s living and working in Northern Virginia while commuting to Lake Placid, N.Y.
Salter’s goal is to become a member of the U.S. Olympic skeleton team. And skeleton is neither a Halloween joke nor a Goth hard-rock music group.
Skeleton athletes hurl themselves down an ice track on a single sled at speeds in excess of freeway limits.
“Metal on ice and wind through the helmet,” she said describing her first slide. “It didn’t feel as fast as it was.”
While many people recognize the luge or bobsled in Olympic events, the skeleton team is less well-known. Although there are similarities among the three downhill ice races, such as speeds exceeding 70 to 80 miles per hour, the luge is feet first. Skeleton sliders put their heads and faces in front and actually feel the ice shaving coming off the sled’s runners. The bobsled is either a two-person or four-person team race.
Salter’s skeleton accomplishments lack substantial skin and weight now. She has only been practicing for several months, but has grasped the technique, which she described as “hold on.”
During college and high school, Salter was better known for her track achievements. She ran sprints such as the 60, 100 and 200-meter races. As her collegiate career was ending, she longed to find an event to complement her sprint work, one that would fill the time between fall and spring.
“A friend, actually a [shot] putter, suggested I consider the bobsled since they typically recruit sprinters to get good speed behind the sled,” she said.
But after a few adventures down the icy slope on a bobsled, the skeleton coach asked Salter to consider his sport. She quickly agreed and is now a member of the U.S. Development Squad.
Becoming a full-fledged member of the team requires more than fast footwork and Salter understands the necessity for athletes to practice and practice. She plans to leave her job in Virginia and move to Lake Placid.
Attending the Olympics as a competitor, not simply a spectator, has been a lifetime dream for Salter. “I always wanted to go to the Olympics,” she said. “At 12-years-old, it didn’t matter what sport.”
To get to Krasnaya Polyana, Russia in the western Caucasus near the Black Sea, the site of the 2014 Winter Oylmpics, Salter must become a full-time athlete, competing for that rare opportunity. When asked if four years wasn’t a brief time to move from novice to Olympic athlete, she assured me that the 2018 Winter Olympics would be her next goal.
“It will take a lot of hard work and training,” she replied. “And maybe four to eight years.” But living and training in Lake Placid among a population of world-class athletes appeals to Salter’s sense of adventure and challenge.
The venue for the 2018 Winter Olympics has not yet been determined, but three cities are bidding to host the events — Annecy, France in the French Alps, Munich, Germany (host of the 1972 Summer Olympics), and Pyeongchang, South Korea, a two-time previous bidder. The decision will be announced on July 6, 2011.
Meanwhile, Salter plans to train seven days a week. When asked how fast she has ridden the sled, she replied, “Sixty-eight miles per hour, but that’s slow, a top caliber athlete tends to go 75 plus.”
Without a job, she’s hoping for help from the U.S. Olympic Committee because it is costly to train and become a world class athlete. A used skeleton sled costs $5,000, a new one is $10,000. A pair of runners is $750, a helmet costs $250 and even protective pads and food cost money. Idyllwild can help its prospective Olympic athlete directly.
A potential sponsor can send funds made payable to the “USBSF – Athletic Training Fund” (United States Bobsled & Skeleton Federation Athletic Training Fund) care of Lisa Carlock, U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation, 1631 Mesa Avenue, Copper Building, Suite A, Colorado Springs, CO 80906. The sponsor must also note for which athlete the funds are designated. Credit card (Visa and Mastercard) donations can also be accepted online via the USBSF web site (www. bobsled.teamusa.org). Under the “Resources” tab select “Athlete Training Fund.”
J.P. Crumrine can be reached at email@example.com.