Big day of learning!

Today’s sliding session was chock-a-block full of learning!

We slid earlier than we have in the past, from 3-5. The Intercontinental Cup is here this week, so they had their ice time earlier in the day. A couple of us went down to the track to watch. I stood at curves 11, 12 and 13 to watch the entrance and exit of 12, which I’ve had a problem with in the past.

It was great to watch the international sliders and see everyone’s technique. I will say the US sliders hit a great line in 12, while some of the internationals dropped out of 12 too late.

Leisl and I hit the gym after we got back from the track to work on treadmill pushes. To remind y’all, we set up the treadmill so the belt on the treadmill moves under your own power. A block is set up to hold on to, so you bend over and run like you’re on the track with the sled. It’s great for form!

A US ICC athlete, Caleb Smith, who I met at my first combine, helped us out with our starting technique. His advice helped a LOT, and as a result, I’m really feeling my hip flexors and quads tonight! I pushed up to a speed of 7.2, which is not too bad.

The track when we slid was slower than it had been on Friday, but still it was fast enough to learn a lot on.

My task Don gave me to focus on was to up steer in Curve 10. I was to up steer, hold it, go neutral, and then as soon as I saw the exit, down steer hard (don’t worry, it makes sense to me!).

My first slide felt pretty good. I was consistent in my times (59.80) but my start time was still pretty bad (5.88). But I felt like I did 10 right, because 11, 12 and 13 felt great.

My start in Lake Placid

The only couple of things that went wrong was skidding before curves 2 and 3, and then something happened that was really scary: I skidded in Curve 17. Not before, not after…IN. I entered it on the left side of the track, and as a result, my head went up “to the right” (not really, but in that direction) and the bottom of my sled went down “to the left”. Kinda scary, and as a result, I got in 18 weird, and it spit me out hard into the wall. By the time I passed the finish eye, I was as slow as if I had been on the out-run.

Despite the skid, I had a fairly consistent time (1:00.93).

Needless to say, I was pumped and ready to get back on the sled for my third run. Before that, we took a short track walk down to the middle of Curve 1 and took a look at where we were supposed to drive.

Don told us to look at him when he stood at the corner of Start 1 and look at him. This would turn our shoulders into our sleds enough to steer it correctly out of the curve. If it sounds confusing, you’d be right, but it makes sense when you’re on the sled.

Well, I saw Don and I looked at him, but I looked at him with my eyes. I didn’t actually turn my head to look at him. So, of course, I didn’t steer the sled and I skidded into 2. Oh well.

This third run was a lot cleaner. I steered 10 well, and the lower part of the track also went smoothly. I came in with a 59.81, and if you look in the paragraphs above, you’ll see this time is only 1 one-hundreth of a second slower than my first. Talk about consistency!

Sliding Curve 10. Note: My head is DOWN!

I may not have PRed today, but I was happy with my performance. I love this sport because there are SO many things to work on! I love the technicality sliding, and love challenging myself to perfect every little move.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the week. Our second Lake Placid Cup Series race in on Thursday instead of Friday, which is awesome because I work Friday morning, and I hate working before competing. I hope I continue to be consistent in my times and my performance, all the while improving on my times.

To reiterate, my goal is to compete in America’s Cup in late March. To get a competition under my belt before the season ends would be fantastic, and would also help to rank me as an international athlete.

I also hope to be invited to the FIBT (the Federation Internationale Bobsled and Tobogganing) Driving School. This is a driving school that only a couple elite athletes (per country) are invited to. It would be an amazing learning experience, one that would help launch me onto the international stage.

Finally, there is the US Championships in March. These are open to all American athletes, and to compete against them and see their skills would be fantastic.

Of course for now, I will be focusing on myself, my fitness level, my strength, and my performances on the track. I will continue to be a sponge and learn all I can about sliding.

There are many goals ahead to work towards, and I’m excited to do it. The last several days of sliding have confirmed to me that this is where I’m supposed to be. My experiences here have been some that I will remember for the rest of my life, and am so happy to share it all with you!

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