I think I am pretty good about being honest with what I can and cannot do. I know that I have a lot of learning to do on a luge sled. I know that I cause many of my own problems when I slide. I also have a pretty good idea when I get to the bottom how well I have done. Maybe not to the 1/100 of a second but certainly I know what a “good” or “OK” or “bad” or even “horrible” run feels like and what it means as far as time.
This weekend I went to Lake Placid to slide on Saturday evening and then on Sunday morning. A nice double luge session to end December. It was snowing on Saturday (winter finally came to the North Country) and very windy. The snow/wind combination means that you are going to get some snow on the track. Snow means slow times.
First slider goes off. And his time was OK. Maybe the track wasn’t so bad. My turn comes along and off I go. Down to the bottom: 50.016. Dang that was slow. OK. I botched the start and my form was poor. Back to the top. Better start, better form, no really problems 49.880. Seriously? Lets just skip to the end of this debacle. I slide 4 runs. 2 were right around 50 even, two were 49.7 (ish). Bad times. I chalked it up to the start ramp. My sled didn’t feel like it was gliding well when I was on the start handles. Snow on the start ramp, clearly the problem.
Fast forward to Sunday morning. The track is cleared of snow. The temps are about 15F (fast but drivable ice). I’m ready to go. Onto the handles. I pull off lay back on the sled. From the start the sled was pulling to the right. I horsed it down to the bottom. Another crappy time. Jim, the club president, was coaching. The coach watches you slide and tells you what you are doing right or (more likely in my case) wrong. I said my sled was pulling. He said my shoulders were up. OK. Mission 1 get the shoulders down.
Run 2. Much better form. Shoulders down. Pretty clean. Pretty good. Up the out ramp and I stopped early up the ramp (meaning I wasn’t going fast). My time? 49.169. Seriously? That run was way better than that. I know it was cleaner than that. Back to the top. 3rd run: 49.264. 4th run: 49.051. OK. Good news/bad news (as usual). Its a good thing to slide consistent runs. And those runs were all pretty consistent. I had my shoulders back and didn’t make any really bad mistakes. Only thing….the times were not anywhere close to what they should have been.
Onto my 5th and final run. Off the handles. On the track. Back on the sled. The sled immediately pulled to the right. Crap. (BTW. It is not my favorite thing to be at the start of a run, with a sled that is misbehaving. There is a lot of track to run before the end.) I horsed it down the track again. Jim asked the usual questions:
“What did you feel in this corner?”
“Jim we need to look at my sled, there is something wrong with it.”
“Its pulling to the right, and none of my times are close to where they should be for how I slide the runs. There is something wrong.”
When everyone finished we looked at my sled. The steel runner on the right side was all messed up. Looks like that side must have hit something on the track. A little discussion and we find out that others had the same thing happen, to the same side of their sleds, Saturday evening.
My steels are so bad that they are going to need an expert to look at (and fix) them.
It’s nice to slide and feel like you are making progress. It’s a little frustrating to do that and not seeing the results. Luckily I have something to blame it on. It’s not my fault…Well not all of it anyway. Four weeks till the next sliding session.