Sunday morning 7 am. I’m gearing up for the 2016 Luge Masters Race. I check the starting order and notice that I drew the first spot which meant that not only was I the first slider of my group, but since my group went first, I was the first slider of the day. Since the second run start order is reverse order of finish (meaning slowest first run goes first, fastest goes last) I realized that my day could be over very quickly.
The great part of having zero expectations of winning (or placing or showing for that matter) is that it doesn’t matter how well you do, the competition is all internal. I got myself ready to race and found I was having a lot of fun. I didn’t sleep a lot the night before because my neck was sore from my whiplash run the day before and I couldn’t get comfortable. But the aches melted away. I was with my friends.
I presented my sled, weighed in (the one place that my zombie apocalypse energy reserves were a good thing) and got ready to get onto the track. The track workers did a fantastic job of prepping the track and it looked shiny and smooth. They called my name and off I went. How did it go? It was my 2nd fastest run ever. I made it through my “crux section” the upper labrynth and flew into the chicanes
remaining calm on the bumpy gnarly track. I cam close to the wall but made it through clean. Into the lower “Heart” section and into the final corner. There are 2 lines through the final curve. One takes you smoothly through the other takes you high and ejects you into the wall, but after the timing eye. The second line is fast, but sub optimal for the slider. I let it go flew across the finish line and tagged the far wall. But it didn’t matter I was super happy.
The first sled of the day showed the track was fast. And the first slider of the day showed a year of rust was no obstacle.
Now luge races usually show big gaps between groups of sliders. The four fastest sliders are about 1-1.5 seconds faster than I am. The second slider of the day was a guest slider from Park City Utah. He is super fast. Once I came down off my cloud I listened to the second half of his run and watched his split times. THIS COULD NOT BE HAPPENING! It was a total stinker of a run. Mr. Superfast dude came down (after leaving some marks on the walls) and was about 1.2 seconds BEHIND ME! Woot!
The other 3 fast guys (from my local club) came down and had fast runs. But seriously? I was in 4th place.
OK time for run #2. Mr. Superfast went before me and threw down a smoking fast run (it was in fact the fastest run of the day that anyone had). I went to the start line and prepared to enter the record books. My second run was fantastic. See, I kind of even look like I know what I am doing…
The splits will show I was faster on the upper portion of the course and entered into the chicane at 85 km/h (53 mph). Then just as I was about the leave the chicane I hit a rut and tagged a wall. Game over. OK, I finished, and my time wasn’t “horrible”, but 4th place slipped out of my gloved hands. Actually I would have needed to slide about 0.5 seconds faster than my previous personal best to keep 4th place, and I wan’t going THAT fast. Still.
OK, so what was different between the runs? Me, myself, and I. How focused was I on the first run? When I entered the chicane (right before that video) I head a loud metalic ping. My brain registered it and then left it in my wake. The ping actually came from a bolt that came off my sled while I was sliding. On my second run I entered the chicane and was immediately uncomfortable. If I had been more relaxed the rut wouldn’t have resulted in me finding wall.
Yeah, sometimes the track beats you.
In the end I ended the race in 5th place over all. Right about where I would have predicted before the race. Coreen said that I really should slide more next winter. Yeah. Yeah.