Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Back to Bobsledding

"Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better, and your better is best"
The four-man push in the World Cup
 
After 30 hours on a plane, even a bobsled run doesn't wake you up. Despite the g-forces, the excessive speed, and the freezing cold... there were moments on the way down the track where I really didn't know where I was. Not just which corner, but which continent.

After arriving in Salt Lake City late in the evening, the Australian four-man team for the race, Heath, Duncan, Lucas and I had a race at 9am the following morning. After such a long and hard pre-season, it was a strange way to begin competition.
My recollection is so hazy due to the jetlag, but neither of our first four man races went to plan. The first race saw us disqualified after a miscommunication at the startline left one of our push athletes out of the sled, and our second race saw us relegated to 9th place after a crash in the first heat.
If I needed a wake up, I got it as we rolled out of corner 13 on one of the faster bobsled tracks.
In my new position of number 2 in the sled, I am the most exposed to the wall of ice that we hit when we roll, and I was lucky to avoid a bad burn on my shoulder. It's always the sound that's so distinctive, the intense rattling as hard ice and your helmet collide at over 100km/h.
But crashes happen to the best and if you are serious about the sport you can't let it affect you. We all pulled up fine. Sometimes normal bobsled runs hurt more depending on how well you are positioned in the sled.
The disappointing effort from behind the sled and the unfortunate crash are all things that come down to experience. We are still a young team, and need more time on ice, and behind a sled to ensure we are able to put absolutely everything into it. With no facilities back home, we are forced to utilise every moment in training overseas, and often we are still learning as we race.
After the America's Cup, it was time to briefly celebrate my 24th birthday, and a visit from an old Uni friend was an awesome present - thanks Nikki for dinner!

For a second year in a row, the entire team was treated to the luxuries of the Olympic Gold Medallist Jim Shea's mansion. A hot tub after a long day of sliding, or in the gym goes down well.


Not a bad spot for a spa
The team worked hard in training to ensure we had things set for the second crack at the course... at a much higher level. Our first world cup race of the season.
 
Lucas struggled with a stomach bug during the week.... mainly due to some undercooked meat that he served to everyone, he'll need to step up his game. He was forced to to pull out of the running for a spot in the four-man.
Duncan was given the nod for the two-man race after his strong efforts in the America's Cup the week before. The boys didn't get the times they were looking for, the pressure of a world cup is a whole other level... but it's great experience for our team to get a year out from the Olympic Games.
In the four-man, I pushed from two, Duncan sat in three, and Anthony (Tony) jumped in as the brakeman. In only our third push together, we equalled Australia's record push at the track. It wasn't as fast as we were hoping for, but it's encouraging that we know there is a lot more to come.

Our downtime was hurt by a bit of contact with the shortwall high up on the track that limited our highest speed. It just goes to show that at the elite level, margins are very small, and the tiniest mistakes make big differences. We didn't get a second run after finishing outside the top 20, but there are promising signs for the squad.
The boys

Duncan (snores like a wild pig) has now gone home, and we can all finally get some sleep at Whistler's Athletes village. Our pushes should improve drastically! ;)
The challenges of travelling, training, and competing fade away when you realise the amazing places you get to see, and the brilliant athletes and people you get to meet. It's always worth so much more knowing how hard we've worked to get where we are.
We're excited to see what we can do here as Lucas (Stig) Mata, Anthony and I fight for the two-man brake spot behind Heath for the first race at the track.
It's the fastest course in the world and we're going to get to some serious speeds... Bring it on!
As always a big thank you to everyone at home and here at the tracks helping us out and supporting us!
Hope you can all watch along as we push for glory, I'll post links to the live-feed on my Facebook page.
Till next time... Feel the rhythm and feel the rhyme!
 

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