1. Today is the first installment about my adventure last week in Lake Placid at the US Luge National Masters Race.
2. All pictures in the upcoming posts were taken By Laura Murphy, the wife of one of the club sliders Jim Murphy. Laura took some amazing pictures.
I had a long week last week. It was not what could be called stress free. It was the US Luge Masters Nationals race weekend. I was excited about getting away for a couple of days and spending time with my sliding friends. The plan was to go up for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Friday practice was at 9 am which meant that I could “sleep in” (meaning I had to leave my house at 6 am to get to the track in time) before sliding. Yeah.
I into my car at 6 am and rolled out of town. Temperature on the thermometer 2 F. If you have ever done any outdoor ice related sports you know that ice is different depending on the temperature. Even though the track is refrigerated the outdoor temps definitely play a part in how the track behaves. The ice starts to get “hard” below about 10F. On hard ice you do not get as much bite out of the runners and so it is easier to skid. That kind of ice rewards good sliding form and relaxed bodies. Not my strong points as a slider. So far this year its been warm when we have slide. Soft grippy ice. But it was time for the first hard ice of the season.
I didn’t feel great Friday morning. The butterflies didn’t seem to be settling down. But, all dressed and up to the start house we go. When my turn came I got my sled and went to the start handles. The track was cleared and off I went. I bobbled the start a little bit and settled onto my sled.
(Sliding along the wall is not the fastest way down the start ramp.)
Into the first corner then into the Labrynth. (Here if you never read it or have forgotten it, this post has a description of the track) Its been a problem section for me. And this first run was not really good. My shoulder pulled up off the sled which caused the back end of my sled to kick out. I pulled it together tried to straighten up and entered into the corner before the Chicane. My poor run continued and I ping ponged off the walls down the chicane. Through the Heart and over the finish line. 50.839 seconds. Worst run of the season.
Onto the second run. Pulled off. Skidded in the Labrynth (again) – ping ponged through the Chicane (again) and fell off my sled. First crash of the season. Caught a ride with Melissa the track EMT to the finish line. (Not liking this pattern)
A quick note about crashing on a luge. Its not always the worst option. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it is the best possible choice. Sometimes it also hurts less than continuing a bad run. This was not a bad crash. Only my pride was injured.
Onto my third run. Skidded in the Labrynth (again) – didn’t ping pong through the Chicane (yeah) and finished. 49.925. Crappy run but a definite improvement over the first two.
Fourth and final run. A little self talk: “If you do nothing else Doug keep your freaking shoulders down”. Off the handles. Into the Labrynth. Clean transition through there (seriously?). Into the Chicane (clean). Into and through the Heart (clean) over the finish line. Fly up the outrun look at the time board 47.754 seconds (holy crap, first sub-48 time ever, Personal Best).
(Hey I kind of, almost, look like I know what I am doing here. Maybe there is hope.)
What a frustrating day. Worst run of the year, first crash of the year and my fastest run EVER. Can you say inconsistent?