everything about this week was rushed. We hit the road in Austria on Sunday evening and come Monday we were making our way to Lake Placid.
After a somewhat underwhelming performance in last week's World Cup I felt like I had something to prove in the next competition. So it was goodbye Austria, Hello America. We frantically unloaded our cargo and readied our sleds for the new track. The sub-zero temperatures caused quite a shock to the system compared to the mild European climate we’re so accustomed to. Nevertheless, we donned our winter armor (spandex) and headed to the start. It had been quite sometime since I’ve had to learn a new track let a lone doing it in only 8 runs.
The Lake Placid track is a very technical, unforgiving, bumpy track with little to no room for error. The best lines here are ones driven to precision. I took my first two runs from the women’s start to get acclimated to the style of driving. Without any massive issues, I managed to drive the sled down twice which gave me enough gusto to take on the men’s start. Now, it’s no secret that my strongest asset about my sliding is my start and it’s as if the ramp here was built for me. It’s a long, flat ramp that turns sharply into a right-hand corner. After negotiating a few rough runs in the top section, I was able to get the sled down somewhat clean. That being said, I did not have one run all week without scrubbing at least one wall. With my confidence just as bruised as my arms, it was time to race.
By the time qualifiers rolled around, the temperature had plummeted. We raced in about -17oC ice, which meant any large steer on the sled could cause you to lose control and skid. I ended up laying down a rough run and stuck myself in 11th- a less than ideal Nations Cup. The doubles raced first on Friday, which meant I had all morning to stew and think about my upcoming race. The weather was steadily hovering around -2oC so my 9th place start bib wouldn’t really be of any benefit. In the first run, I hit out of the start corner and the next two corners as well. It was the worst run I had had all week and it happened in the race and it landed me in 23rd. Regardless, I had to scrape up my confidence and throw down one last slide here in The States. My second run was off to a good start. I could tell my second start was more powerful and the time showed it. I pulled the 5th fastest start in the second run. On my way down, I tapped the wall out of the 3rd corner and had some major difficulties in the lower section of the track. Despite my difficulties, my competitors had it worse. I sat in the leaders box for the first time ever and climbed up 4 positions. I would settle into 19th place in the end.
The race had proven to be a challenge for me. However, I will say this. Despite having a terrible performance, I am content with the result. I’ve slid at a much high level in the past and I’ve never had a result like this. It was my first ever top-twenty finish and I shouldn’t turn my back to that. It is still a step in the right direction. This track was a huge source of anxiety for me because it’s hyped up to be one of the toughest in the world. After my week of sliding here I can say that yes, it is challenging but it’s certainly not the impossible feat that my imagination made it out to be. I will take my bruised arms as a lesson to focus on performance and not results. I have a lot more room for improvement and it’s only getting better from here. So it’s time to pack up and head back to the land of doughnuts and moose meat for World Cup number 3 in frosty YYC. Canada, here we come.