I would love to regale you with stories of things totally clicking in my sliding. Or at least entertaining you with stories of woe in my sliding. (Well I wouldn’t “love” to do that, but it makes for great stories.) But I cannot. In one word my sliding right now is “consistent”.
I slide Saturday night and Sunday morning. 8 runs in total. And of those 8 none were real (or even kind of ) stinkers. They were all solid runs with times that were within about 0.1 seconds of each other. I have reached the point where I am laying down the same run (more or less) each time down. It’s fun, but its also kind of frustrating.
That’s silly on one hand. My times are getting better. My last three runs on Sunday were the fastest 3 runs I have had this year and within spitting distance of my personal best. On a side note, I have NO idea how I slid that personal best time last year. That must have truly been a case of blind squirrel finding a nut. A combination of fast ice and good luck I guess. But I digress.
Over the past 4 sessions my times have been getting a little faster each time. It’s frustrating because I feel like I am actually sliding much better, form wise, not perfect but much better. The big jumps in time are not there right now. Probably time to put a little more effort into driving (or not driving) better. It’s also well past time to stop anticipating the problems I had and “fixing” them before I actually need to. I am loosing a little time in each of the sections of the track by steering when I don’t need to. (Right next to the wall is OK, no need to panic! In the wall is bad, but still not time to panic….). Time to stay patient with myself. The speeds and finish times will come.
One of the cool things about this weekend is we had a whole gaggle of new kids sliding with the club this weekend (and over the past couple of weeks). It makes for a really cool energy at the track. Three kids really stand out and tell the tail of luge.
The first kid was a sister of another kid who is on one of the development teams. She wanted to give it a try. So she geared up to slide with us Saturday night. She was all full of excitement at the start. I gave her the beginners instructional drill and chatted with her. I didn’t see her during the session since she was starting lower down the track. At the end of the night I caught up with her in the sled shed and she was really quiet. She had some difficulties sliding and well, didn’t enjoy the experience at all. She was quiet instead of chatty. It clearly wasn’t for her. We talked about how that is OK. Luge is not for everyone. I have one of those at my house. He would rather clean his room than get on a luge. Really, I think if you have him that choice he would pick cleaning his room over sliding. That’s saying something for an 11 year old. Luge should be first and foremost fun. If it isn’t, it’s not for you.
The second kid had been at a screening camp in November trying to make the development team. He was sliding with us along with 3 other kids who had also been in camp with him. That group of 4 kids started at the lower start. They were not super happy about that. They were chomping to get up higher on the track. I kept them at the lower start for Saturday night just to get them back onto the track. Sunday morning I offered them the option of moving up. Two decided to move up. This kid said he wanted to do one more session at the lower start. He was the last kid in the rotation to slide. I had finished for the morning and was in the timing booth to see his last run. (We have video cameras on the track to see what is going on so you can watch.) He took the “long path” through the chicanes (it looks like s straight section, but is a little more complicated). The “long path” is a ping pong approach. Into the right wall, into the left wall, repeat….. Here let me illustrate with a picture of me pulling off this move:
I don’t advise this as a line. It’s slow (and it hurts a lot).
When he got off the track he was clearly a hurting little dude. We called the medic over to finish and she took him down to the shed to check him out. He was fine, just a little bruised. When I caught up with him his mouth was going at 100mph. He was relating the story of his epic adventure down the track. I was off my sled, but I held onto the sled (which is what you were supposed to do and what we drill into sliders they MUST do). The sled was above my head, I pulled it down and back under me so I could finish the run…. You get the idea. My older son who slides has the same story, except in his he was going backwards on his sled (which he somehow managed to turn so he was GOING backwards, I believe this is physically impossible) and then got it turned around so he could finish his run. This kid will be fine. He has that spark. (His parents were calm too, which is also super important.)
The third kid has been sliding with the club for a couple of weeks and she moved up to the higher start last week. She has been doing fine. On her third run Sunday morning she also took the long path through the chicane, but her path was shorter. She was ejected from her sled and stopped in the chicanes. There are two kinds of sliders. Those of us who HAVE crashed, and those who WILL crash. The first time you crash is an amazing experience. Usually things on the run seam to be going ok then they spiral out of control, remarkably fast. You get a spike of adrenalin that lasts well after the crash. It’s a weird thing cause it comes too late to be helpful. All the bad things have stopped happening but you are left totally amped up. I remember being left with a “WTF just happened to me” feeling. The adrenalin made me feel like things were still going fast around me well after the crash. Crashing is an important skill to learn when you slide. You need to get that first one out of the way so that you know its not so bad (usually) and so you know what to do when you crash (critical, because it is going to happen again at some point). It’s also important to learn how to “save” a run when things go to crap. You need to learn when to go into survival mode and forget about run times. It’s usually better (and safer) to have those experiences and develop those skills at slower speeds than at higher speeds.
When I caught up with her she was with her dad. She had some bumps and bruises and ice on her hand. And that full on adrenaline rush going. I was pretty sure she was OK physically. Her dad wanted her to get back on her sled and do a 4th run. There is a balance between getting back on the sled and causing more harm. I thought that would have been a disaster and she agreed, so we pulled the plug on the night. Dad agreed too, so all was well. When I saw her back down at the shed after the session she was smiling and talking. The adrenaline had gone down She will be fine too.