As always, it’s been a while! I am currently in Whistler, the venue for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics where I am racing in a week or so! It’ll be my first Inter-Continental cup (ICC) race, and it’s over my birthday.
Let’s rewind though. Because I only just recently got back on ice in the first place. I left Bath for Lillehammer, Norway on the 1st October. Winter was here! With approximately 100 kg of kit and luggage all painstakingly packed to the last gram it was time for pre-season. Not having a sliding track of our own us GB athletes have sort of adopted Lillehammer as the next best thing! It was my first ever track, and although it has caused me issues in the past it is now a firm favourite; mainly thanks to a decent pre-season the year before.
I had some equipment issues the first couple of days, issues that didn’t resolve until the few hours prior to the first training session. I chose to start my season from a lower start (actually where I took my first EVER slides from two years ago) to ease myself back in to sliding. This was a good call as I was every so slightly stressed by the time all the issues had been resolved, plus the session was at 10:45pm! A time most of us are usually tucked up in bed.
The first couple of days are always a bit nervy and you have to be patient whilst your body and mind remember the sport and connect with the ice. There is nothing quite like sliding and we have a long break from it during the summer so its takes a little bit of getting used to again. Not to mention how sore your neck is from the G force that first week!
Time goes pretty fast when you’re away as there is a lot to get done. This was a big camp too, the whole British Skeleton programme plus staff. Days tended to involve pre-sliding mobility (I’d come away not 100% and needed to look after my body), sliding (takes 2-3 hours), video, gym, sled work and of course not forgetting meals and recovery. Before you know it it can be 8/9 pm and you want to start winding down for bed. Anyway this meant that before we knew it OT1 (official training) for our selection race was upon us. We’d had one day off sliding since starting so it was pretty intense.
The selection race determines which race circuits the athletes who are eligible to race go on. So it is pretty important, especially in an Olympic year. We raced over four runs like an Olympics. For me, day 1 started well and ended badly. I dropped two places after the second run – the track had slowed down a lot and it didn’t suit me/I didn’t adapt. I was gutted; but fortunately had another two runs to fight for my position.
I started the next day with a PB! I was back into 3rd and pleased with my run. All I needed to do was repeat. My fourth run wasn’t a bad one but nor was it as fast as my first that day; and it was only enough to hold 3rd rather than climb any spots. I was happy; last year I finished 4th so I’d climbed and done enough to qualify onto the ICC; moving up from Europa cup which I competed on the year before. This had been my goal since January – a new years resolution of sorts, so to achieve it was great!
The result was bittersweet though. Placing third meant I did not get selected to go to PyeongChang for the Olympic track training week. I needed to have finished higher to get selected. I think 0.2 s separated 2nd and 3rd, much less than the deficit I had after that damn second run on day 1! But of course, that is elite sport and skeleton; which often comes down to hundredths over four runs not just tenths.
So my plans remained the same, maybe a blessing in disguise. I am able to be in Whistler preparing to race and hit my targets for this year rather than trekking across the globe and adding another new track into the mix. I am yet to get on my sled here in Whistler, but I am dying to do so. The track is famous for its high speeds and I quite fancy a new speed PB!
Watch this space 🙂