Official Trials

SlaDE~ and I were tingling with excitement at the thought of his hurtling down the bobsleigh run at COP, twice, without having to pay anything other than the membership fee with joining the National Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association. Pinch me … is this for real? Was slaDE really about to partake in the 4 Man Bobsleigh official training (2 runs) with the Olympic caliber race to follow, this Thursday?

We arrived at the Ice House, awaiting Sarah and her direction. No one had arrived yet, so I was happy to snap away at the innards of this really cool indoor playground (kind of like a water-slide emporium, but with concrete slides featuring ice rather than water). The Ice House is where the athletes train after the track is closed (due to the warming weather and expensive outdoor track upkeep — did I mention that COP uses a coolant system along the whole tracks length to keep the ice fast, as well as watering it down before a race? ). Inside the clubhouse there was a mini-museum housing many trophies, medals and different sliding rigs. Quite interesting to view the history of the sliding sports … something that I’ve never really had any interest in before this felicitous occasion.

From the Ice House, we made our way to the Sled Shed; this is the storage area for all the bobsleighs. Half a dozen groups were already making their way up the hill with their sleds assembled, and Sarah’s crew hadn’t quite all arrived! It was a bit of a scramble but the sleigh was pieced together, and we made our way to summit. At the top, there is a multi-windowed locker room, of sorts, where all the athletes drop their gear, hang out, warm-up and keep warm, awaiting their turns down the run. I was privileged and surprised at gaining admittance. I tell you, the sight before me in this athletic enclave was incredible. I’ve never seen such big thighs and muscles in all my life, let alone contained within one small rooM! And to be honest, it wasn’t just the men who were built like cabooses.

A successful bobsleigh team consists of powerful racers with both the agility of a gazelle and the speed of a cougar, and additionally with the endurance of a camel and the skill of a jet-fighter pilot. Pretty impressive actually. I was fascinated by the teams and their starting sequences, capturing the 3 to 6 second sprints before hopping stealthily into the bob. A good push and start can shave fractions of a second off the overall time, and more often than not, this can mean the difference between placing and no medal at all.

Sarah’s team did fabulously, (with 50m start times around 6.06 and run times around 58.7) especially considering the experience level of her teammates, combined. I was very proud of slaDE and the natural skill he displayed in ‘falling’ into the runner (sprinter, pusher) crew position. In my experience, I’ve found that he displays an intuitive talent in anything he finds enjoyment and / or passion in (i.e. look at his yoga abilities just after 4 months … egaDS!).

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