Author’s Note: Sorry I was absent the past two weeks. Sabbatical Part 2 has started and I am again finding myself in a position where I need to get my life organized in a new city. This time the big metropolis know as “Syracuse”. Anything compared to Potsdam is a metropolis. Hopefully life will settle down and I can get back into some regular writing.
Three weeks ago I had my first luge session of the year. And well it could be described in one word. Slow. Track conditions were poor and so it was slow. I was supposed to slide two weekends ago but, as per the Author’s note above, I have been busy getting my life together. So I skipped the session. This week was cooler, no, it was down right cold and so I new the track would be more typical maybe bordering on hard. Regardless it was going to be faster.
One of the fun things about the club is having kids slide who are hoping to become Olympians and new “civilians” trying just to see what the sport is like. They add a excited nervous energy to the sessions that is fun to be around. Well, except when you are the only adult in charge of a bunch of kids and newbies. Then distraction changes pre-slide prep. And so I found myself Saturday night in the start house, running a little behind, and being scheduled to be first off the handles. Not the space I wanted to be in.
The start house had 3 pre-teen boys being 3 pre-teen boys (with all that energy), a very cool 17 year old young woman who I love to slide with, a new young woman who had been sliding for a couple of weeks, and a parent of one of the pre-teen boys. As the pre-teens whipped themselves into a pre-teen frenzy I asked them to quiet down a little bit and focus. Then the dad, who was just being friendly started to talking to me, a lot. 5 minutes to sliding. I made a command decision and went outside of the warm start house to get some quiet in the cold. I got myself centered, sorta and prepared for my first run.
They called my name and I pulled off the handles and had a pretty good run going through the top portion of the course. Clean through the area where I typically have trouble and into the not really straight straight away. At the end of the chicane I tapped the left wall which pushed me into the right wall just before the entrance to a big curve. Historically my response to hitting a wall in the chicane would have been to tense up and sit up a little bit on my sled. This is a bad idea because it leads to the following dynamics:
The correct response is to stay calm, stay back on the sled, relax, and get ready to deal with things.
I really have come a long way in my sliding. My brain stayed calm allowing me to absorb the collision. I quickly realized that I was aimed wrong into the corner and that I needed to steer a little bit more than normal in the corner to prevent really bad things from happening. And that’s what I did finishing with a 48.150 s run. Once that time would have made me really happy. Not any more. But I was really happy that I did the right things and managed the badness. I also realized that the track was fast because the ice was hard, but very driveable.
My next run started sideways on the start ramp. But I kept it together and had a clean run 47.312 s. There was a time when I would have been ecstatic with that time. Not any more. Now I was feeling it. I knew that there were better runs in me.
Third run, a little more effort at the start. Clean on the ramp, and clean on the run. Still too much steering in the chicane when I didn’t need to, but clean none the less. When I got up to the finish house I was going fast, the track workers jumped out of the track and I had to apply the breaks. A little smile broke out on my face. 46.873 s.
The track workers said we had time for one more run and so I went back up for one more run and got ready.
My goal for Saturday night was to really commit to laying back on my sled, staying calm and being aerodynamic. Good sliding form was my goal. As I prepared for my last run on the night I reminded myself to commit to good form.
My last start was the best of the night. I had a pretty good pull and then two pretty good paddles. (I stink at starts, partially because I haven’t really focused on them, because I have been focusing on what comes after the start.) I relaxed back onto my sled, put my head back to minimize wind resistance and went for it. Clean through the top section. Into the chicane. I applied a steer that I didn’t need and a correction steer that I did need to fix the steer I didn’t need, still not all bad. Through the last three corners clean and across the finish line. Lots of speed up to the finish house, track workers out of the way! Brakes applied, smile on face. 46.482 s. This turned out to be my second fastest time ever, on what was really my 4th run of the season.
There are two trends on a given night that make me feel good about my sliding. One is when I slide nearly the same time for all of my runs. That show’s consistency and is an indication you are sliding well. (Primarily because if you are not sliding well, then you cannot repeat runs.) The other kind of night that makes me feel good about my sliding is when each run gets faster than the last. That means you are putting things together. Saturday I put slide well and put things together.
My magic number right now is 45. I am hunting for a run that has “45” as the first two digits. It’s coming…….. Bar considered yourself lowered.
The icing on the cake was that the new people sliding, well they had a great time.