The North American LegNow that we’ve come to the Christmas break we’re supposedly at the halfway point of the season. So we’re two races down, with seven to go.
The two races so far have been on two of the most technically challenging tracks that we visit: Whistler with its intimidating speeds and high G corners, and Lake Placid with its aggressive corner transitions and disjointed rhythm.
Whistler is one of the jewels on the international sliding circuit and one of my favourite tracks. It combines smooth ice with challenging corners and intimidating top speeds of over 140 kph.
I’d found a connection with the Whistler track through training, and seemed to be able to unlock speed from the track on almost every run. Things were good, sliding was going well.
Then the race started, I got to the bottom of the track after the first run and our team manager told me my push time. I thought she was lying to me, it had felt faster than that, how could I have only pushed 21st fastest in the field? The second push was a little faster, but then I went off line out of corner 4, I made a mistake through 6 which cost a lot of time on the exit, and then set up a series of hits on the walls from 11 to 14 which put the final nail in the coffin and dropped me down to 8th place. All the work through the build up to the race had amounted to nothing.
Lake Placid is another big challenge to find a connection with. The track will throw you around even if you’re on a good line, and for some reason there are always bumps here. Big hard bumps that jar the body and rattle the brain. The challenge of staying relaxed and alert on the sled is heightened so much more when the track’s beating seven bells of shit out of you on the way down.
Some people describe sliding Lake Placid as being put through a dishwasher, which isn’t far from the truth. Except you don’t necessarily come out clean.
Again, training went well in Lake Placid and I developed an understanding with the track that I haven’t felt before here. Big thanks to our ice coach Eric Bernotas for enabling this, who has won World Cup races here for the US and used to be the track record holder.
On race day we woke up to -25 degree temperatures, and the ice on the track was hard and brittle. My first run was messy, and put me well off the pace in 12th position. I could only move up to 10th on the second, and so I rounded off another strong couple of weeks of training with another disappointing race result.
Next up, Christmas.