1879 – part I

1879 – part I

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1879. The number of kilometres I’ve driven across Europe since the 31st December. Munich to St. Moritz (via Innsbruck), St. Moritz to Altenberg and Altenberg to Innsbruck. I left home on New Year’s Eve; no parties or kisses at midnight for me (sorry James). The aim was to be in St. Moritz for midnight albeit potentially building our sleds for the early morning (8am) New Year’s Day sliding session.

I mean, I can think of worse ways to spend new year’s than St. Moritz, watching a spectacular firework display over the frozen lake! But the weather had other ideas! Our flight from Heathrow was cancelled; so instead of flying to Innsbruck and having a two-hour drive to St. Moritz, we flew to Munich (on a delayed flight) and subsequently had a MUCH longer drive on the other side. Midnight approached as we neared the border to Switzerland and one of my teammates, Donna lead us to a gathering in a place called Pfunz (I think), where the locals had a bonfire and we were surrounded by firework displays. So, not quite St. Moritz, but a celebration of the new year nonetheless. The Germans don’t seem to be in to Auld Lang Syne so we used our car radio to do the dance and then went on our way. 90’s club classics the soundtrack to the final leg of the drive in a bid to stay awake! We eventually arrived at 2am, had a quick team meeting where we found out training was 10am and proceeded to try to sleep through the party downstairs with alarms set for 6am. Needless to say, we didn’t get up at 6am and build sleds for training; we were exhausted and went and watched training instead.

The week in St. Moritz was a blur. Instead of the normal three days and six runs of official training (OT), we had two days and four runs. Of these two were disrupted by snow. St. Moritz is a natural track and absolutely gorgeous part of the skeleton tour. However, the sun rarely made an appearance so it felt distinctly un-Moritz like for the most part – I didn’t even take a walk on the frozen lake! Race day came and with it SNOW! A skeleton athlete’s worst nightmare as the track fills up with snow and it makes racing very unfair. Despite protests and calls to cancel the race it went ahead and the coaches were designated to sweep between athletes; an unusual occurrence as your coach is usually at the block with you.

The only natural track in the world

I was fourth off and unfortunately there was still a lot of snow in the track as the coaches hadn’t had much time to sweep a mornings worth of snow. It was still my best run of the week but unfortunately, not very fast. As more athletes came down (acting as snow ploughs) times decreased and I was sitting in 11th after run 1; a position that I did not feel I deserved. The men were off next and unfortunately during their heat an accident occurred in the track where a coach got hit by a slider because he stayed in the track too long*. This put an end to the day’s racing; demonstrating the huge health and safety risk of sweeping between sliders. My race became a one-run race and the men’s was cancelled and rescheduled for the next day. *coach and athlete are both okay.

The following day went with somewhat less drama. But with two men’s and one women’s’ race to run only one-run races were to take place. This time I finished 7th; falling out of the podium places during the last run of the race – gutting. A better result but I was still dissatisfied. St. Moritz was over for another year; six runs down the most unique track in the world is not enough!

St. Moritz aka ‘top of the world’