Some days things are just a little bit out of whack. When I slide on days like that I usually end up fighting the track instead of flowing. The track wins those days. (Well truthfully I never feel like I beat the track. My best days are when the track and I reach a detente.)
I was just a little off when we started sliding this weekend, for a lot of reasons. I was up very late Friday night being a dad, up very early Saturday morning to be a race official for a group of kids who were 10-16 in the luge Youth National Championships, and I was distracted Saturday night being the ADK luge club president. The first two meant that I was a little tired when I got to the track Saturday night.
The last one was because we had 8 first time sliders learning to luge. Usually we have 1 or 2 new people that we need to get oriented. 8 I believe is unprecedented for the club. Helmets for everyone. Sleds for everyone. A big group “this is how you slide, have FUN, don’t worry etc.” orientation. Answering questions. “What about, how do I, etc.” All the typical WTF am I getting myself into questions. I see one of my jobs as making the experience memorable (hopefully in a good way 😉 ) for all the new people. In the end I didn’t get to do my usual warm up, get into the zone stuff. It was just an odd night.
My first run was a mess.
Here is the track map to reorient you. I pulled off from start 4 and got onto my sled. The Labyrinth (11-12-13) was a mess. I tagged a wall between 12 and 13. Pulled it somewhat back together. Fought through the chicane. Had a weird first corner in the heart (turn 17-18-19), too much of a steer in 19 and was slow. 48.258. Cannot blame that one on the ice conditions. They were not blazing fast, but not that slow either. Grr.
Second run. Worse than the first. Same issues plus a little skid in 19. 48.759. Sigh. (I am going to do this until I get it right…….)
Time to relax. Let it all go and just take what the track has. In the start house I quieted my mind and tried to get the tension out of my shoulders. Onto the sled. A little rough in the 12-13 transition but better. Smaller steers in the chicane. Better but not great in the heart. 47.388. Better.
4th run pretty much a carbon copy of the 3rd.
We didn’t have many people sliding and so we had a chance for a 5th run. Back to the top. Relax into the sled this time. Really relax into the sled this time. I made a pretty good transition from 12-13. Nice run going on. Much quieter in the chicane. Head back and stretched out. Better in the heart. 47.023. Best run of the night. The club guru (who took only two runs because he was recovering from a quick illness) came up to me and said I had great form in the chicane. That felt good, but still I went away just not quite satisfied.
“G”. G is for grind. That’s the best way to describe Saturday. It was a grind from the start. Some days flow is an illusive thing to achieve.
My metric for victory in a luge session is going away smiling. I did, but this week it was not because of my sliding. It was because of the 8 new people who slid with us.
They slide from a lower start on the track than we do. So you give them THE directions and kind of send them on their way. We did have a coach with them at the start so they are not on their own. But I have no contact with them during the session.
When we were all done we got back down to put our equipment away. “Who had fun?” 8 hands shot into the air filled with 8 great big smiles.
“We want to come back next week and need to get out of a party. It’s a bowling party, but this is WAY better.” Yeah luge is WAY better than bowling.
I left the track with a smile on my face.