This is going to be long.
Whistler North America Cup official training started on November 17th.
November 4th I asked Ivo if I could possibly be in the races since Janelle couldn’t get the time off [SCARY]. November 6th he said I would be on ‘stand by’ and should fill out all the paperwork in case I did get to race [COOL]. November 12th I was told that they had picked the team and I would not get to race [SAD]. November 14th I was told that they had made a mistake and that I would get to race [PARTY]. It was a roller coaster of emotions.
The first week of OT was okay. I was nervous to slide with such a big group of athletes that I didn’t know, but everyone was really friendly. There were a lot of really experienced sliders this year, including Olympians, World Cup, and ICC athletes. The ice was only medium fast, and I had some good runs. I even got a new PB downtime and speed (57.98 seconds, and 131.54 km/hr). Corner 16 was giving me serious trouble though.
Second week of OT was a different story. The ice was speeding up. The problem with corner 16 was getting worse instead of better. I kept slamming down out of 16 and hitting the same spot of my jaw against my sled, which was extremely painful. Disfiguring face wounds are not fun. My start times were embarrassing. I wasn’t getting any feedback from our NAC coach. I questioned why I was even there.
I cried at practice one day after a terrible out of control painful run. Embarrassing.
After much consolation from Matt and Mimi and Snowy and Nick and Diana (:’) thanks guys) I decided to not take a second run that day and take the next day (the day before the race) off. I just needed some time away from everything.
I relaxed the whole day before the race and was nice and calm. In the evening Matt and I met up to polish our runners and chat. As I was putting my sled on the ground to get ready to polish I realized that my sled was actually really quite broken. A weld had snapped and my saddle was completely unattached on one end. AHH!! I was so nervous to call Scott (Ballard) to tell him that I had broken my sled (AGAIN) and hadn’t realized until the evening before the race, after I had wasted away the whole day doing nothing. Thankfully he wasn’t mad and we were able to fix it later that evening. How convenient that our BCBSA coach knows how to weld and stuff.
Anyway I got back to my room, tried to remind myself of all the good runs I’ve had before, all the people that are so supportive of me, and that I did belong there. And sleep.
Race day. I put my rock down a mm to try and get a bit more control (sacrificing speed, but I would rather not break my jaw). Warmed up. Tried to block out everything else that was happening in the start house.
There were a lot of people watching at the start which was nerve-wracking, but also motivating. I tried to run a little quicker and farther than usual and managed to have an ok run. I did NOT smash my face on the end of 16 so I was happy. When I got back to the top I found out that I was in last place (expected) but had pushed a tenth faster than usual (5.64)!! (By the way that is a TERRIBLE start time, but for me it is an enormous victory). I was first off for the second run and again tried to run faster and farther. Run 2 was a little crazier at the bottom, a bit face-smashy at the bottom, but only 0.10 seconds off my PR downtime, and I had pushed another personal record (5.61).
All in all I was VERY happy with how the race went. Sure I came in 12th place out of 12, but I had pushed TWO PR push times, not destroyed my face, and had completed my first ever international race!! (Which happened to be my goal for this year of sliding).
That afternoon I went to the Scandinave spa (Scott told me to treat myself) to relax. It was lovely and did the trick. I polished my runners again, hung out with friends, went to bed early.
Second race: perfect weather and ice conditions again so the track was quick. Both my runs were sloppy and hard to control but I made it down. I pushed another PR time at the top (5.57) on the first run, and despite getting a little off balance, matched it on my second run. COOL.
I came in 11th place, out of 11. The three time Olympian (seriously) won, quelle suprise. But anyway, I did it. Another race. I was so happy that it was all over.
Anyway, I haven’t felt that much stress since like… exams or something. It was really really hard, but I’m glad I got to be part of it. I met some really great new people. It also made me realize that I have some really amazing support from a lot of people up in Whistler, and I’m so happy that my first race experience was with all of them around. At least I got that comfort from being in a place I knew, with familiar faces all around. A big thank you to Scott and Rosemarie too who were only a text message away when I needed it, and everyone else who sent me encouraging messages throughout the week. It really did help. <3