February 6th, 2011
What an ending to the World Cup season…
The second half has definitely not lived up to my expectations. 4th, 7th, 5th… It has been a bit disappointing to say the least. I suppose its because every time we race we are aiming for the podium. I think my problem is that most of the time, I’m just trying too hard. How can you not be frustrating when in a race like St. Moritz, you feel more as though you are a part of the German Championships rather than a world cup. It’s horrifying to see one nation sweep the podium with such domination. Every other country is over half a second behind…in bobsleigh, that is a lifetime. So you start looking for answers, everywhere. I have tested everything from rubber in my sled, to runner carriers. And nothing seems to stop the slow bleeding of time that happens as we go down the track. So this week in Cesana I decided to just change sleds completely. Poor Fernando, resigned to sit in a dark cold garage for 3 days while I tried my luck at another sled. The new sled was actually not too bad. The problem was that the steering system is completely different than the one I have used for so many years. After smashing my way down the track for 4 runs, I gave up. And with excitement and a feeling of comfort, I returned to my trusty ole’ steed. I had 2 really bad days of training in Fernando. The guys jokingly said he was jealous. He is a bit high maintenance after all. So that was it, heading into the final world cup race with some big questions marks, not one good run to my name all week in training.
On race day we woke up in the morning to clear blue skies, surrounded by the beautiful Italian mountains. With tones of snow and weather well above zero, I took some time to reflect on how lucky we are to do this sport. These past two weeks in both St. Moritz and Cesana (two of the prettiest winter resorts I have ever seen) we have been surrounded by snow and sunshine. I am a professional toboganner. I spend weeks with great people, laughing, and doing something I love. I am very lucky. I remember feeling quite similar at the Olympic games last winter. Very fortunate and very thankful for all of the people that allow us to do something we love and be successful at it. My team these past few weeks have put up with a lot. The mechanics are always changing and working on my sled, my teammates and coaches have to put up with me complaining about being slow all of the time. It turns out, in the end, all I had to do was forget about trying to go fast and instead try to enjoy what might be my last World Cup race in Cesana. Apparently the bob track that saw me though my first Olympic Games in 2006 might not host another bobsleigh World cup race. So Shelley, Diane and I just enjoyed the track, enjoyed the sunshine and enjoyed the runs…straight to the top of the podium. It was Shelley’s first World Cup Gold medal and my 6th World Cup victory. I was so happy to finally get Shelley on top of that podium. She deserves it so much!
Now we head off to Germany for 3 weeks. The first week is international training because they have changed the bottom three corners at the track in Konigssee and the pilots are all being given a few extra runs to learn the new corners. The final two weeks are the 2011 World Championships. Week two will be the Women’s bobsleigh , 2-man, and team events. Week three will be men & women’s skeleton along with the 4-man. Stay tuned!