It’s been a couple of weeks since the ADK Luge Club was on the track in Lake Placid. And the last time I slide, I wrecked the runners on my sled. (Well I didn’t wreck the runners on my sled. The lack of ice someplace on the track wrecked the runners on my sled.) In the intervening time I took my sled to Dr. Duncan (a.k.a. Duncan Kennedy) and had my steels fixed. So I was excited to get back onto the track this weekend and see what would happen.
Luge is a sport timed to the 1/1000 of a second. It is a sport of not inches, but millimeters. Let me give you an example. There is something called “toe” on a sled. It is how parallel the steel runners are. You want the runners to be just a little bit toed in (closer to each other in the front, farther from each other in the back). If they are just a little bit toed out (like a mm) then the sled is beast to handle.
The last time I slide, my steels were essentially dulled. The sled didn’t steel well. Now I had steels that were set to run. This is how my first run went.
I got onto my sled and set my self up for the start. The first thing I noticed was how easily the sled slid on the starting ramp. I was rocking it back and forth to warm up and could immediately tell a difference. The window to the start house (where we wait till it is time to slide) opened and Duncan Kennedy stuck his head out the window and said “bet that feels better”. Duncan doesn’t usually slide with us but he was there for a couple of runs with us.
I was cleared to run. Put my face shield on and pulled off. The first trick to sliding is settling on the sled. Going from a sitting position to a laying position. It’s actually a little trickier than you might think. Remember any uneven motion turns into a steel (especially if your sled is working properly.) And so my sled was squirely down the start ramp.
Now, one of the most “exciting” things in luge is when you have trouble on the start ramp, and you are not sure if your sled is set-up right. Why? Because you have the whole rest of the track to get through, and no real way to stop.
I finally got settled onto the sled and was on the track. I quickly realized that my sled was much more responsive that it had been the last time I slid. How did I know? Well every time I twitched, the sled steered. And so I struggled down the track. Correcting, bouncing, counter steering, counter counter steering and getting a feel for my now (very) responsive sled. I made it to the bottom. It was not a thing of beauty, but I made it to the bottom.
So what happened? I bobbled the start. Then I tensed. Then my form went bad. The sled was responsive and responded to my bad form. Then I had an exciting run. But I passed the smile test. I ended the night with a smile on my face.
(Authors note: Each of my runs got progressively better Saturday night. Well until my last run. For that run I was tired and sloppy.)