Monday Morning Slider (Tuesday Edition): US Luge National Masters Day 2

One of the best things about Masters is getting to spend time with sliders, both new and old. On Friday evening we had a dinner with all of the sliders, friends and families. Ah the things I learned about the “Wild West” Cowboy days of sliding. Days when I would have possibly been an Olympian (turns out the sport originally had what were more or less club sliders going to the Olympics, huh go figure). We were also dazzled with stories of what happens when you let teenagers, who are naturally drawn to something conservative like luge, are left to live together more or less unsupervised. It was quite an enlightening dinner.

Saturday morning was the second day of practice for the race. On Saturday morning we were treated to the presence of one Duncan Kennedy on the track. I’ve mentioned Duncan before.  He went to two Olympic games. He won many international medals in luge. I think I also mentioned he is quite possible the best slider our country has ever produced. (Duncan also happens to be a super nice guy, so he is fun to be with at the track. Duncan will always help you with advice or with your equipment if you need.) When Duncan comes to the track to slide funny things happen. When he slides everything stops. People come out of the start house to watch him start. They listen closely to the split times. Jaws drop when his times are announced. He is just that much better than any of us. Now being a new slider I am SO FAR away from Duncan that what he does really doesn’t concern me. Its just wicked cool to hear “Up next Duncan followed by Doug” over the track PA.

So my first run (following Duncan’s blazing 44.573)? It was good. I had a little skid in the Labyrinth but finished with a pretty good 48.390. Cycle through. Duncan takes a second run: 44.562. I decided to continue my theme of inconsistency and failed in the Labyrinth, careened through the Chicane, and finished with a 52.458 (slowest run of the year). On my third run. I managed to put it together. I stayed back on my sled. Was relaxed. And out popped a 47.642. A new Personal Best.

Here are some visuals.

curve 11 saturday

This is turn 11 (the first corner in the Labyrinth). Head up. Shoulders off the sled. A VERY exciting way to go down the track. (Well exciting if you like pounding your way down the track.)

curve 14 saturday

This is my 3rd run (the PB run) in Benham’s Bend (the curve before the Chicane). Shoulders are down. Body is more relaxed. Pretty good there. But the head is pointing up the track which is not the correct form. I was able to correct and had a clean pass through the chicane.

A remarkable thing happened after I finished my 3rd run. I had a moment of total happiness. This was quickly followed by the realization that I needed to brake so that I would actually stop at the finish house (that really never happened for me before, it was kind of cool). Then I thought about my run and I realized that there were at least two spots on the track where I did something really wrong and I could have gone faster. It wasn’t a disappointing bad thought. It was an exciting realization.

I talked with Duncan after than run. He didn’t slide a 3rd run and watch the rest of us slide.

Duncan hasn’t seen me slide in about a year. He commented that I was much better on the sled and very very close to putting it together.

Time for race day.

(As with yesterday’s post. The pictures in today’s post were taken by Laura Murphy. The pictures from the race, which will be shown tomorrow, are even more awesome. Tune in!)

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