2012 US Skeleton National Championships

Well, once again, a couple months have gone by with not a peep from yours truely on this blog of mine! It’s nothing against you all, I just didn’t have much time!

Having succeeded in finding a second job (at the local ceramics studio) and training day in and day out, there has been little rest for me since I got back from Park City!

World Championships was hosted here in Lake Placid, and for those of you who didn’t get a chance to follow the races online or didn’t see any of my dozens of Facebook and Twitter updates, the USA fared quite well! We won the first two-man Bobsled World Championship gold medal for the US program, and won gold for both four-man Bobsled and women’s skeleton! We also scored a bronze medal in women’s bobsled, and our men’s skeleton team placed top 11. With the races being on our home track, it was great to see American dominance and it was a lot of fun to watch! I only got to see the first two heats of the women’s skeleton races in person, but the rest I was able to stream live at work! What an exciting two weeks!

During that time, I also got to stay with a coworker from Adventure Links, who goes to school and lives in Saranac Lake, about 15 minutes from Lake Placid. It was great to be away from LP for a bit, and it was fun to catch up with her again. I spent a lot of time in the library, at work, and in the gym as I tried to use the limited facility access to my advantage.

The debut of my newly painted pod!

There was no rest for the weary World Cup athletes, as the US Skeleton National Championships were a mere week after the World Champs race! Nationals was a big deal for me to compete in, because it was my redemtion race for how I performed at Team Trials in October. (In case you don’t remember, here is a link to the blog post regarding it! In short…it didn’t end well.) National Championships would be attended by the entire coaching staff, and would involve every athlete in the US program, World Cup to first-year sliders and everyone in between. It was a chance to show how hard I had worked throughout the season, and to show that I really could slide well.

With just three days of training, equaling six total training runs before the four-heat race, there wasn’t much time to prepare after Worlds, for those of us who didn’t race or forerun the “big event”. I was sliding consistently, just not exactly fast. My first instinct was to panic because I wasn’t sliding where I “thought I should be” but with the help of one of my coaches, I was able to turn that mentality aside and really focus on what went well, and think only about what I could improve on during the runs.

Once again, I give my full and hearty thanks to my coach, Becca, who every night, no matter how late it got, met with me to talk about the training runs of the day and prepare mentally for the next day. She’s been an incredible help to me this season and I would NOT be where I am today if not for her. Don’t worry…I’ve shared this with her!

The first day of competition went quite well! I slid well, and was very comfortable and relaxed on my sled. It was almost surreal how relaxed I felt. I wasn’t anxious at all. I made similar mistakes to ones I had made in training on the first run, but I was able to clean them up on my second run, which was very good! Both runs were consistent, so I finished day one in 2nd place! It was a huge confidence boost for me, and it felt incredible to be in that position, especially when I thought of how it felt at team trials on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The second day of competition was a little more messy. The ice was faster, which made for exciting and quick runs. My first run of the day (third of the competition) was a bit skiddy and sloppy, so I was a bit disappointed as soon as I crossed the finish line, but then a teammate told me my downtime…and I realized I had beat my personal record by .35 seconds! Huge!! What a way to start the day!

I was a little too jazzed up from the emotions of the first day carrying over into Sunday, and especially after hitting a PR. As a result, I was a little too figity on my sled during the fourth and final run of the race, and made some mistakes that bumped me down another spot into fourth place overall. I missed a medal by .06 seconds (incredibly close after four miles of ice!) but it was hard to be disappointed, particularly after remembering where I started the season. I got some very kind words from bronze medalist Meghan Sullivan (she almost made me cry!) at the bottom, and Savannah and Megan Henry (2nd and 1st place respectively) were both incredibly gracious and wonderful after the race. They slid very well and all of them deserve to be where they finished! Meghan and I had a battle for 3rd, and I’m so happy for her! But the best feeling was that of being recognized by my teammates for my hard work in the season. It made it all worth it.

US National Championship Medalists

After the awards ceremony, each of the coaches came to me recognized my performance, and let me tell you, what a confidence boost! I’m thankful that they were able to see that I can actually slide (despite my poor turnout at Team Trials) and that I was learning more and more every day.

I am so grateful to be a part of this program, and I am so thankful for all my teammates, coaches, friends, and family who have supported me through the ups and downs of this season! I am where I am right now because of all of you, and couldn’t imagine doing this alone! I’m fortunate to have the ear of a coach when I need it, the shoulder of a teammate to cry on, and the hugs of coaches and families when least expected. Thank you to all who have helped me!

I earned a spot on the America’s Cup team, representing the United States in the final two races of the FIBT season. Those races take place the last weekend of March, and I will certainly keep you updated as to what happens in that race, and anything leading up to it! And there will be more pictures to this blog post just as soon as I can remember to find them!

Thank you all! Life is only what you make of it!

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