Author’s note: For those of you who are new. Hey welcome. You might not know it, but in the winter my competitive sport switch from mtb biking to well luge. Luge is that crazy sport most people see for 30 minutes every 4 years during the winter Olympics. The feet first on your back one. Not the head first on your stomach thing, or the NASCAR on ice thingy. Nope, Luge.
There are two ways to have a slow run in luge. One would be pilot error. I am well versed in that particular version of the slow run. (For example…..)
Or for those of you who are more visually oriented…..
The second way to have a slow run is because of weather. The luge track in Lake Placid is refrigerated. (They can keep ice on it to about 65F.) It is also outside, which is key. Ice conditions are highly variable depending on the temperature and maybe even more importantly the humidity. Think about what happens when you open your freezer and the humidity is high. Water condenses on the cold things in the freezer and freezes forming frost. The track is just like that. When the humidity is high the track forms a layer of frost on it. The frost is soft and your sled plows rather than glides, making for a slow day.
It’s been cold, but the forecast for Saturday night was snow changing to sleet changing to ice changing to rain with temps rising into the 40’s.
I got to the track Yadda Yadda Yadda (Yadda yadda yadda here ignores the fact that 1 mile from my house I had my first deer on car contact ever. Stupid deer ran into the back of my moving car. No damage. It also ignores the ice on the road. But I digress) and got geared up. It was nice. It was familiar. I had missed the fall sliding sessions because I was in Michigan. So it was also about time!
When we got up to the start house I went to look at the start ramp and the track. The ice was a matte white color. The color of frost.
I was placed somewhere in the middle of the start order. Jim, the club guru was first. He pulled off and started his run. The track announcer talked through his run. And when it was finished he announced his time…… 51.something. All the people in the start house shook their heads.
Let me put this in perspective. Jim usually completes a run in 45.something seconds. Yeah, periodically he throws in a stinker, but that was really more than a stinker. It was a frost run.
Now there is one very very good thing about a frosty, slow track. It’s incredibly grippy. Your sled steers almost by itself. You really just need to think about where you need to go and the sled goes where you will it. It’s super forgiving. It is even forgiving of bad technique. So that means its a great time to practice technique. Because if things go badly, well you can recover pretty easily.
When it was my turn I got to the start handles there were no nerves. It was a perfect morning to remember how to get back onto a sled and get those first runs out of the way. I finished my first run. It was clean and it was 5+ seconds off my personal best. I got off my sled and walked up to the finish dock (another sure sign of a slow run). The guru was waiting.
Jim: “I got my coffee in turn 14.”
Me: “And drank it in the chicane I bet.” We laughed.
I took 4 runs. Pretty identical. Pretty slow. I didn’t want to take my 5th because I didn’t want my brain to lock these conditions into my short term muscle memory. And while its fun to post fast times, it was a nice morning getting back onto the track. Sorry no exciting tales of near misses and epic saves. But……..
……….The forecast for this week is very cold. The track will NOT be like this next weekend.