A Bit Rough Around the Edges…

It’s been a whirlwind beginning to the 2011-2012 skeleton season, to say the least.

I’ll try to keep this post brief, but there is a LOT to cover since the last time I updated was Push Championships a month ago. I apologize for the wait, and don’t think I’ve forgotten you all, because I haven’t!

Following Push Championships, I traveled West for the first time since last Christmas to visit my Grandma Marilyn in the beautiful town of Ashland, Oregon, a place I have long considered a second home. It was the first time I’d been there in about seven years (or so we calculated) so it was a joy to be back. Grandpa wasn’t there this time, but he was there in spirit, and I was glad I got to spend time with Grandma.

Flying in was a big couple of days, since I flew from Albany to Baltimore following Push Champs, spent the night in the Baltimore Airport, before flying out at 5am ET from Baltimore. Five plane changes and a left-then-discovered-then-shipped-then-found again cell phone later, I  arrived in Medford, OR at 10:30pm PT. I was greeted at the Medford airport by my grandma and aunt and uncle, all of whom I was delighted to see after the busy day.

Mt Rainier as viewed from the plane!

After about three days in Ashland (three days, and two plays at OSF: Pirates of Penzance and Julius Caesar) Grandma and I headed out to Utah for a week of sightseeing and tourism at Arches National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. I won’t go through all the details, but it was a week-long driving trip, staying in nice hotels, lots of hiking and pictures!

Delicate Arch and the views

I must say Arches is beautiful, and if you have never been there, you should go. The rock formations in the west are CRAZY and Arches is one of the best places to go to see cool…well, arches! My favorites were the biggest attractions, Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch. The latter I loved because of the hike and the views, and Landscape is just plain cool!

The trip was also a memorial of sorts. We came bearing some of Grandpa’s ashes, and now he is everywhere in the park: in Park Avenue, at Delicate, Windows, and a whole lot of other paces. I’m glad I got to see this happen, because it helped me say goodbye in one of the most fitting ways for him.

Landscape Arch in black and white

Following Arches, we headed back to Oregon, stopping at Capitol Reef National Park for a night. THIS was a park to my liking! Set in the middle of the desert and rock formations, a river flows through. The area was settled by Mormans, who planted a BUNCH of orchards along the river. Named Fruita, the town flourished until around World War II, when the children of Fruita started commuting to other schools. Now, the town is in the National Park. There are still orchards everywhere (with U-Pick fruit!) and the river is gorgeous.

Grandma and I took a hike through Capitol Gorge, and saw the traveler’s registry, which is basically a rock slab with carvings on them dating back to the 1800s.  I picked some apples, and went on a early morning hike the next day to scatter some more of Grandpa. I loved the park, with the water, grass, orchards and history, and I could definitely see myself working there someday!

A section of the Fruita River at Capitol Reef

Upon returning to Ashland, I spent another week there, mostly biking downtown to visit the sites I used to haunt, look around the theatres, visit the Southern Oregon University store, and enjoy the grower’s markets. I also trained for skeleton, thanks to the SOU weight room staff who let  me train for free (THANK YOU!). Overall, it was a wonderful visit. I wish it had been longer, but I also got a lot out of the trip. I love Southern Oregon, and it was difficult to leave.

But finally I am here in Lake Placid, training once again among Olympians, world class athletes and development athletes such as myself. It took a few days to settle in and adjust to the environment, but I was back on my sled the second day I was here. I have a newly built sled, which is taking some getting used to. As per the post title, I haven’t been sliding as well as I did last year, which has been frustrating. After a lot of talks with coaches, I’m starting to accept this, and I think I’m being tested for something in the future. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m ready for the challenge.

US Olympic flag at the ski jumps

Team Trials consists of four races. Usually, two are in Lake Placid and two are in Park City, but due to finances, we are only racing in Lake Placid. The first two races didn’t go well for me. I switched back to my old sled from last year, but still I was uncomfortable on the track. I unfortunately didn’t earn any points towards qualifying for a competition circuit, but like I said, there are four races total, so I have two left.

I was surprised and really pleased to see a former NAU teammate/classmate of mine, Curtis Durocher, arrive in Lake Placid for some training with the Canadian bobsled teams (he showed up right before our second race!). He’ll be here this week, so I’ll be able to watch him slide! I was also joined at the track by an Adventure Links coworker, who lives in Saranac Lake. I’m glad to know people up here now!

And so, I end this post here, looking forward to a new week of sliding, figuring out sleds, and performing at my best for the final two Team Trials races. I look forward to the challenges that are facing me, and I hope I can tackle them with grace and poise. It’s definitely testing me, but with the help of coaches and teammates, I’m pulling through it as best I can.

I want to shout out some folks who have helped me financially this season. Thanks to three hours of addressing letter and licking envelopes, I sent out some sponsorship letters. The result has been overwhelmingly positive! Mike Walton, a good family friend, has contributed $500 to my cause, which is incredible and so helpful. Royce and Darlene Wise, Carl and Shelly Nelson, Tom and Barbara Strout, and Dianne and Phil Drell are others who have contributed. I have received e-mails or Facebook messages from the above, so those who have sent funds who I didn’t mention, don’t worry! I’ll mention you! THANK YOU so much for your support, help and encouragement. Especially right now, it means so much to me to have wonderful friends and family like you all! I hope I can continue to live up to your expectations as well as my own!

For now…

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One thought on “A Bit Rough Around the Edges…

  1. Great blog post Lauren! Love hearing about your experiences, both in training and your life in general. Marilyn told me about your visit and trip. It meant a lot to her. Keep up the hard work. We believe in you!

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