Saturday, November 5, 2011

My realisation

 "It's the kind of sport that rewards you over many years... not instantly" 
Cassie Hawrysh

When people think of bobsled they think of speed, adrenaline, danger, excitement, and of course... Jamaica.

I hate to be the one to bust the myth, but much of it is very little of the above.

My first ever bobsled run, just a few short days ago..
For about five minutes of the day, it is exhilerating, thrilling and downright scary. But for the rest, it's tough work, many hours of negotiating, doing favours, asking for favours, doing "track-walks", and sled-work.

People have the belief Bobsled is a glamour sport, and of course for nations like Germany, the United States and Russia, it is exactly that.

For countries like Australia, you don't get much help. Just about everything comes out of your own pocket, and your own time.

This, of course, makes every run so much more rewarding, and for the pilots, makes them certainly take care of their sleds like they are their own children.

There are so many little moments in this sport that before I came, I never envisaged.

For example the simple act of moving a sled back to the top of the hill for the next run. I have gathered lately that sleds do not actually fly.... and so after an adrenaline-filled, heart-thumping, and downright painful run down... you organise your sleds transport back to the top of the hill, which involves lifting the buggers onto trucks.

After the final run, when your exhausted, and can only think about sleep, you spend a good hour maintaining the sled, preserving the runners. None of these tasks are particularly taxing or physically demanding on their own.

But as a brakeman, you've just been hurtled down a bloody great hill at well over 100kph, feeling around 6 g-force on the bigger corners, and the LAST thing you want to do, is pick up the damn sled that got you there and work on it in the snow.

Doing some sled work...

It's a sport like no other, in that you do so much work, for so little time on track.

This just adds to the reward, a smooth run, even as a brakeman when you can see nothing, is one of the better feelings in life. 

After completing the Bob and Skeleton School the other day, Jason and I were to be joined by the rest of the Aussie team, Heath and Ryan, last night at a local McDonalds at 7:00pm (yes the Aussie team DOES eat healthy).

Unfortunately due to a blizzard, we spent a good four hours waiting there for the two to arrive. I've never spent so long in a McDonalds in one go, although my work colleagues might argue otherwise...

The prolonged stay got me seriously reconsidering the need/place for the fast food chain in my life. One quarter-pounder quickly cast aside those doubts, and I was firmly back in the pro-Mcdonald's camp again.

Heath and Ryan did finally arrive, and that night we moved into the house/amazingly-huge-mansion of Olympic Gold medalist Jimmy Shea.

The house is a tad ridiculous, and as Jason has quoted a few times now, "this is honestly the BEST house I have ever been in.... ever".

There are at least 5 bedrooms, two floors, a pool, a ceiling high enough for several giraffes (who would be very comfortable, albeit confused), and as me and Ryan discussed, the mansion is big enough to house even the faintest hope that there could be an oopma-loompa lurking somewhere...

The living room... 

The semi-huge kitchen... Heath and Ryan look small

We are staying here for a week... I'm not sure I'll be able to stay on Heath's couch in Calgary next week after this experience.

Today was our only day off from the track in the last week... we spent it making two trips to Walmart, a trip to home depot, moving some sleds around, moving some of the many TV's around the Shea household, and dropping rental car back in Salt Lake City post-blizzard.

Some pretty cool roadsigns...

Tomorrow we hit the track for the first of four official training days ahead of the Americas Cup races.... 9 nations, over 50 sleds, this is it. Time get serious.

Without a uniform, it's tough.... and so we've been scouting out the local shops...

Below is a decent option... the pilots visibility could be a little diminished though.

Keep feeling the rhythm.

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