When I started sliding a couple of years ago one of my friends said “Relax, you are never going to make the Olympics. So just have fun.” (This is particularly funny if you know the friend who told me this…….)
I have reached the “fun” part of the learning curve. That’s the point when you are sitting on the handles, waiting to pull off, that you are pretty sure you are going to make it to the bottom without hurting yourself. Look, there is nothing like being on a sled going 50+ mph. When things go badly you really question your sanity. BUT when you are in control of what is happening its a lot of FUN.
My times this weekend were on the slow side of what I have been doing (upper 47 seconds). It was freaking cold (-7F). You might think that the ice would be hard. (And you would be correct!) You might also think that hard equates to fast. (But you would be wrong. 🙂 ) Hard ice is challenging because the sled doesn’t hold an edge as well. It just doesn’t bite into the ice the same way as when it is “soft”. You are rewarded on the track when you have good form. You really need to have your weight in the right spot to keep the sled from skidding. Sunday morning the ice qualified as hard. But…
The ice this weekend was also very sticky. When you looked at it there was a hazy layer on it. It looked white and matte. That was caused by a combination of the cold temps and the very dry conditions we had. It kind of forms a sticky layer on the top. You could really tell it was sticky when you were waiting to start. Usually you rock a little bit on the handles to warm up.
See how shiny the ice looks in that picture? When the ice is like this and you grab the handles there is very little friction. The sled moves easy. That was not from this Sunday morning…….
This weekend the ice was slow.
So what happened? Well I felt as good as I have ever felt position wise on my sled. I never skidded the back end of the sled out. My troubles were really track driving issues. Late into a corner, early into a corner. Not “the sled was unmanageable”. I was able to correct and keep some pretty good runs going. In fact my third run was, from top to bottom, my best effort of the season. The time wasn’t my best of the season, but that was environmental.
So I am at the point where I feel like I am in control. Now I need to work on my driving. The funny part is I am having problems in the upper section of the track. Where we are going “slow”. That section is very challenging when you do not have enough speed (its relatively “easy” when you are going from a higher start on the track, well they tell me its easier, I do not have first hand knowledge) because you do not have enough speed to ride the natural line of one of the curves. And so the learning continues.
One of my friends shot a little video of me from this weekend. This is why I slide. When you watch the video think about this. You are the parent of a 10 year old son. It’s -7F outside. You are standing around supporting your child. Your hands and feet are numb. You get to see this, exactly this, once every 30 minutes. Brutal. It was so brutal that I decided getting on a sled was better than that. (BTW. You still have numb hands and feet when you slide.)
But I am starting to look like a slider. Head still needs to come back some more and toes need to be pointed more. (But that’s right after the section where I am having problems, and som of that is the fact that I am trying to get relaxed again.) That’s why I continue to slide 🙂
I do need to get my GoPro back to the track. Maybe this weekend……..
Picture of the Day
Tucker West is one of the American Men’s sliders going to the Olympics this year. Tucker is the youngest ever American slider to be in the Olympics (18). Tucker got his start with the Adirondack Luge Club. He started and learned on the same track as I did. I’ve slid with Tucker. He is a great
kid young man. I still slide with his dad Brett (though Brett has been full on in “dad of Olympian” mode and we haven’t seen much of him at the track this year).
Good Luck Tucker!