When life hands you lemons… Get a Life Coach!

I’ve been waiting until after our team trials races ended before I decided to blog about anything. As always team trials were exhausting and stressful, but overall I am proud of myself and how I finished before moving onto the International races this year. I also decided to buy a new sled this summer, I now have a beautiful Bromley (British sled builder), it was the perfect investment for myself and my future!

photo: courtesy of Molly Choma who was wonderful enough to take pictures for us and allow us to share them with others!
photo: courtesy of Molly Choma who was wonderful enough to take pictures for us and allow us to share them with others!
All white everything! Favorite "color"
All white everything! Favorite “color”

I finished trials ranked #1 for the US  (Lake Placid Race #1 2nd place, Race #2 1st place, Park City Race #1 2nd place, Race #2 2nd place), which put me on our World Cup Circuit, I head to Europe on Wednesday for three races before the Christmas break. The schedule goes: Altenberg, Germany; Winterberg, Germany; and finally Koenigssee, Germany then home for Christmas.

Lake Placid Race day. Photo credit: Molly Choma
Lake Placid Race day. Photo credit: Molly Choma

I had a wonderful summer, with a little downtime, lots of training and working but mainly working on myself. When last season ended I was in limbo mentally and emotionally. I knew that I needed to really learn how to change my inner dialogue in order to become that athlete I know I can be.

One of my long time childhood friends passed away this spring, during the week of World Championships, I was lucky enough to make it home for a funeral and share wonderful memories with her family and friends. Her dad, asked me how the season was, but mainly paid attention to my emotional state. He explained that his daughter had been working with a life coach and mentioned maybe I could do the same he thought it would really help me.

I took some time finding a person to work with, and decided to reach out to a person who I had become close with this past season to see if she had any recommendations. It turned out she did, and shortly after that I started working with my new life coach (a part of Turning Leaf Wellness Center). I knew what I wanted, but didn’t know how to achieve these things. I will say that having my life coach has helped me change my outlook on a lot situations, learn how to express my opinion in a different way and be confident and proud of myself for what I accomplish no matter the outcome. There is so much more to the journey, and the rest can be for a different post in the future (or personal messages if anyone has any questions about it for themselves as well).

I’m excited about continuing on with my journey this season, and am looking forward to where it will take me.

Park City Team Trials. Photo Cred: Molly Choma
Park City Team Trials. Photo Cred: Molly Choma
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From a High to a Low… in more ways than one..

I never posted anything about the race two weeks ago in Koenigssee, Germany the week went by very quickly and before I knew it, it was time to prepare for the next race. I had my best ever finish in Koenigssee 9th place. I’ve never had a great race on that track, the 2007-2008 World Cup season I crashed out of the Kreisel corner lost my sled, and had a DNF (did not finish) in the race. Training was decent all week, and I steadily got faster each day and figured something else out. I was so pleased with my race, this was the fastest I have ever slid there and just had a few mistakes I would have loved to have been able to correct on race day. Since I’m trying to take more positives than negatives from everything each day I left with what I did accomplish correctly. The corners I continued to do well in training were great and there a few other corners that I cleaned up and all but one pressure in kreisel was much better than training.

I walked away from Germany on a high, happy with myself and that I was able to put a great race together and be in the top ten there. The next stop, St. Moritz, Switzerland (also known as The Top of World), this is the only natural (fully man-made) track left in the world. Each year they cut ice blocks from the frozen lake and shape the ice and snow to create the track. There is a template they follow, but no year is ever the same as the last. Its a different feeling sliding on the natural track, you sound different going down, you can hear every mistake you make and you aren’t always fast when you think you should be. I would say the best feeling there is leading into the last two left handed corners on the track, you can hear the speed, the wind going past you through your helmet and feel the cold air going down your arms. At the bottom you are hauling, women normally reach about 135kph or about 84mph, one of the fastest tracks in the world.

Gorgeous view from anywhere you look!
Gorgeous view from anywhere you look!

My training week was only decent and I wasn’t really happy with much, I spend a lot of time listening to music with a lot of alone time but felt that I knew exactly what I had to do the night before the race in order to have the results I wanted. It all came down to letting my sled do what it wanted, being free and not forcing it to any lines that I felt it needed to take. I had a great start, and finally went mostly straight through the first two kinks and the insanely long straight away connecting them to the next corner named Wall. I felt a few skids in the next corners, but my Horseshoe corner (what the track is known for) was great all week, I had height and could hold decent time through the next few corners so even with the skids I had I didn’t stress on my sled.

I went heading down the straightaway into Horseshoe and instantly my chest felt the pressure, which just wasn’t right. The next thing I knew I was crushing the roof of the corner (we call it the wood because that is what it is made of) At that moment it was like I came to, realized what happened and was in utter shock, I’ve never done that before. The hit sent me straight to the bottom of the corner and then back up to the top just missing the wood again upon exiting. I was flying off my sled trying everything to hold on because it is much worse to lose your sled sometimes and I would have been disqualified from the race. I held on with acrobatic form, while getting my metal saddle to my hip. Oh I was in so much pain, my knee smashed on the ice and I knew there was no possible way I would be getting a second run.

When I finally made it to the bottom all I wanted to do was cry, I took my helmet off and just tried not to look at the camera. I went to put my warm clothes on in the finish house and just screamed with tears running down my face. No crying sound, just tears and pure anger, frustration and disbelief in myself. I spoke to no one and got on the truck to go back to the top, my hat puled down all the way over my eyes, hood on I could see where I was going but I didn’t want anyone to see me. I was so embarrassed of what had just happened, I just didn’t understand it. Our team medical staff took me into another room to see if I was alright, I just kept saying I hit my knee its the only thing that hurts and at this point I couldn’t stop crying. It turned into a hyperventilating style of crying and I had to focus on breathing only in order to stop. Two of my long time friends and competitors Austrian Janine Flock (who won that race for her first ever World Cup win) and German Anja Huber-Selbach stood there with me as well until I calmed down. It’s those moments that help you realize why you put yourself through so much, because the friends that I race against will always be there for me the same as I would be there for them whenever they need it. I’ve known some of these girls for about ten years now, thats longer than I’ve kept a number of friends.

It just goes to show you that there is always something to learn, it isn’t always about the race instead it is about who will be there for you when you need to be picked back up, who will help you move forward into the next week of racing, and who knows exactly what you are feeling because they have been there too. Every week this season I have learned something new about myself,  as an athlete, as a person and how to be a better friend. Without family and friends life wouldn’t be fulfilling. So, as upset as I was about race my friends were there to hug me and pick me up through it, and it could have been much worse. I’m lucky that I only have a bruised hip-flexor and a damaged ego. I can heal the hip and rebuild the ego especially knowing I have so many people who support me.

What do you do when you need to get out of the hotel the day after a bad race.. well, you walk around one of the  most beautiful places in the world: St. Moritz, and the day just seems that much better. And its onto the next week.. La Plagne, France; my absolute favorite place, best ever world cup finish of 2nd and more perfect than you could even imagine!

Beautiful day for shopping and walking in St. Moritz
Beautiful day for shopping and walking in St. Moritz

Just a little what not to do in Horseshoe…

Don't go in and hit the roof (luckily it was my sled and not my head that hit)
Don’t go in and hit the roof (luckily it was my sled and not my head that hit)
Because if you hit the roof this will then happen.. From a high to a low...
Because if you hit the roof this will then happen.. From a high to a low…
To another extreme high which will then cause and extremely painful low.
To another extreme high which will then cause and extremely painful low.

Lake Placid and Calgary.. the good and the bad..

Well, I suppose I reverted back to my old ways of blog posting, I don’t think I’ll ever be like my sister Kaitlin who posts something every day. Lets be honest, it’s hard enough for me to post updates on Facebook and Twitter often. The Internet isn’t great over here in Altenberg, Germany so I can’t upload any pictures with this post. My plan is to make an end of the season photo post taking everyone through my trip so you can see the places that we go to, and the crazy weather that we always have!

There have been two World Cup races since my last post, Christmas and New Years as well. So much to catch everyone up on, I’ll start with the two races that got the World Cup season going; Lake Placid,  and Calgary.

Lake Placid was an interesting week; I had an awesome week of training and felt great leading into the race. The first day of training I had a personal best down time (faster than my official track record there). I made a small change to my sled which I shouldn’t have, but this was not the cause of my problems in the race. For anyone who hasn’t watched a race before we wear a bib, this goes over our race suit, and is normally orange on the top and white on the bottom with your race number on it and the World Cup sponsor. I was off 11th, just after the 2 minute commercial break. I was standing outside waiting to be told 1 minute until the track was cleared for me.  I took off my booties covering my shoes, got my pants off, waited a few moments and started to unzip my jacket as I did that I looked down and only saw black. It hit me, my heart was already pounding when I realized I didn’t have my bib on I raced inside the start house running into the door and some person grabbed my bib and ran back outside. Of course it was inside out, Tuffy is holding my sled and my helmet, I’m shaking while my other coach Brian is trying to help me put my bib on, all while I’m screaming I can’t I just can’t (because I couldn’t get it turned right side out or get my arm in the sleeve).  Tuffy put my sled down, I got my helmet on bent down and you could visibly see my legs shaking I started pushing my sled (slower than I ever have in a race). I wanted to make up for what I had just done so I tried to be perfect down the track and that was a bad idea. I crossed the finish line and made my way up the outrun, saw the clock and just put my head in my hands.  I didn’t want to do anything but cry, I was so angry at myself, I’m not a rookie how could I possibly do this! We instantly turned it into a joke, which was helpful and I made sure to show the coaches before run two that I was fully dressed with my bib on and everything.

When something goes wrong you believe you can fix it on the next run, I knew exactly what I had to do and if I had an awesome run I could move up a few spots. Instead I tried to be too perfect again!  I made even more mistakes and basically went slow again! I didn’t move up any and finished the first race of the season in 9th.

After that I said I would move on and do better in Calgary the next week. Calgary was an interesting week of training, nothing really ever went right, I never went fast and never got relaxed on my sled. Race day came and I don’t think I believed in myself at all. I was so far behind from the first run I had put myself in such a hole it seemed like there was no coming back from it. After the first run, I put my headphones in and turned on JLo’s newest album A.K.A. (I love JLo and could listen to her all day!!!) I had it on repeat and other than getting feedback from the coaches I talked to no one, acknowledged nothing and hopped the fence that I wasn’t supposed to for my warm up. I was able to have a faster second run, but since my first was so slow I only moved up one spot. However I did let my sled “run” (or do what it wants to) a little more which was a positive to take from the day. I finished the race in a disappointing 12th place.

Racing is stressful, and something that takes a long while to perfect. My last full World Cup season in 2011-2012 I had really figured out what helps me race best. These last two seasons a lot had changed and that no longer worked for me, or I basically felt like I forgot how to race. It is easy to expect to do well and want or wish to do well but not take the steps to make you better. The first part of the season was a reality check, or better yet a slap in the face.  The Christmas break was just what I needed to get my head back on straight and the drive to be the best to push me for this next part of the season.

My positives to take from both of these races: my start is coming back, I feel fast and healthy and know that I’ll be right  back to where I need to be before the season is over. This is a great start to the quad, its a long four years, and I have a lot to learn about myself still as an athlete and a slider.

Whistler World Cup #1

The first race is over, and let me tell you it was a stressful, very tough week and a half of sliding. Training wasn’t going great but I was slowly getting the track down and going a little faster each day. I had more bumps and bruises than I had all together from even my first year

Start in Whistler

of sliding. I’m not sure if I’ve ever hit the walls as hard as I did this week.

It came to race day and I was really ready, my sled was done runners shiny and my ipod playlist was ready. It was snowing like crazy and made warming up a little difficult, but it sure was beautiful. I pushed well and was excited with that, but my first run I drove too much (which I never do) and was just slower than I had wanted to be. The second run I wanted to drive a little less and well it messed me up. I ended up on my shoulder out of corner 6 and it was messy from then on. I hit more walls and was just even slower and fell back 4 spots.

Although I was very disappointed with the end result, I have to look back on the week of sliding and realized that I learned a lot in a short amount of time. I was just tired by the end and my body was really hurting.

Whistler is a beautiful area and it was nice to be back there after getting to watch the Olympics. Since we weren’t home for Thanksgiving Justin and me decided to start a tradition of eating together. Although we didn’t cook a turkey and we cook most nights when we stay somewhere with a kitchen we made steak in the broiler (yes learning a lot about cooking things too), my favorite rice and some spinach. It was a basic but great dinner and a really nice night.

Cute little guy

This little guy was outside our room one morning. Although very cute I was glad I was inside and he was outside and there was a deck and about 5 feet from him to me!

We are in Calgary for this week, its not too cold but snowing some, training is tomorrow at 2. Race is Thursday at 9am mountain time!

USA 1

Team trials has finished and I am back in Lake Placid for training before heading out again. Just to catch everyone up I finished trials as USA 1. I won the first 3 races and finished 3rd in the last race. It was stressful but well worth it. I broke the start record in Park City, pushed a 4.94! Talk about crazy!

I am ready to get the world cup season started, I had a great summer of training. All of my lifts improved and my sprints were faster. Despite getting bit by a dog (just on the hand), I’d say it was near perfect! I did a lot of pushing on the treadmill this summer, you can put the treadmill on manual we have a wooden set up to hold on and push for as long as we’d like. I think that helped me a lot this summer. I spent a lot of time learning how to keeps my butt down and hips low while pushing, which has really shown.

When I got on my sled for the first day of sliding everything just felt right. I didn’t change anything from the end of last season. I finally felt like my sled was mine at the end of last year and I didn’t want to do my normal re-padding job during the summer. Glad I didn’t!

Schedule for the first half:
Whistler Nov 17th – 27th
Race #1 Nov 25th
Calgary Nov 28th – Dec 3rd
Race #2 Dec 2nd
Park City Dec 5th – 10th
Race #3 Dec 9th
Lake Placid Dec 12th -19th
Race #4 FRIDAY Dec 17th!

I’m really excited for this season!

10th in Park City. Last ICC race

I finished 10th today in the last ICC race of the season in Park City. No nothing what I had hoped for, but I guess you learn to deal with disappointment when it has happened the entire season. I think I was wanting this to be a good race so I could end on something positive. Instead I am exactly where I started, not knowing or understanding why I am having such a bad season.

I had two very bad runs today, nothing different than training so again can’t complain about anything. I am ready to get back to Lake Placid and work and get ready to go watch bobsled in the Olympics. I’ve decided to not go watch the skeleton events although I will be cheering at the television I am sure.

I think I just need a little time to think about the season and maybe recap a little on why it went so poorly, I have a few thoughts but I wonder if they are the real reasons or not. We will see.

Travel day tomorrow, as I said can’t wait to get back there! Shocking, I know!

11th and 12th in Calgary ICC Races

For the first time having a race in Calgary the weather was beautiful. It was about 40 degrees and sunny everyday. We were all just about shocked, as windy as ever though. Except for the first race it was just about the best racing weather we could have had!

I was training better than I have been all season and I was pretty happy with my runs except for one mistake that I kept making in an important spot. I didn’t quite get it for the first race either and ended up finishing 12th.  I was really hoping for some better results, maybe next time.

I fixed corner 8 (my major problem) for run 1 of race 2 and ended up in 12th place. I had a horrible second run from the start. I almost stepped in the groove and got a little off-balance which isn’t like me, but as soon as I got on my sled I said ok now just be perfect. It was the furthest thing from perfect let me tell you. I made every mistake you don’t want to make.

Onto the next and last ICC race of the season though. We were all headed back down to Park City, Utah. And guess what yet again we were driving. I was in the car with John and Keslie driving our teammate Eric’s F150 which I fell in love with on the drive.

It was actually one of the best car rides ever. John got a phone call from our coaches and he found out he was going to the Olympics. The three of us started screaming and didn’t stop for a while. It was awesome to see how happy and excited John was and still is. I think being there with him when he got that phone call, made my season.

4th at Team Trials and 2 weeks in Whistler

I know I haven’t posted anything in the longest time, I got busy with traveling, homework and well just being stressed.

I finished 4th during team trials, I was fifth in both races in Park City. One of my best friends on the team Courtney retired. As she was coming up the out run everyone was cheering. It was one of the saddest moments yet. Her myself and Keslie were crying on the finish dock after her last run. We talk all the time and I miss having her on tour and doing workouts with her.

I went to Whistler with the World cup team and coaches for two weeks of sliding. They brought me because anything could happen and well at the time I thought hey maybe I would be in Whistler. The track is so much fun. Really fast, corner 14 you can just feel the speed it is a crazy feeling.

We had so many video cameras on the track during training and so many coaches I think I really learned a lot. I got a total of 10 runs, which was a lot I didn’t think I was going to get that many because I was USA 4 and just brought along as the extra. The track is very technical and your mistakes can add up very quickly.

I was just so grateful to be there and get sliding time. That pretty much made my season before it even started.

After Whistler I went to Park City to forerun for the race that week. Which I realized at the end of the week was not a good idea. I spent too many hours at the track, and my happy sliding turned into grumpy sliding and I did not have good training runs. I was ready to go back to Lake Placid.

3rd and 5th in Lake Placid

Two team trials races down, two to go. Wednesday was the first race here in Lake Placid, it went pretty well, I got 3rd. I didn’t have the best runs that I had wanted but I kept it together and took 3rd. The second race was on Thursday and well it didn’t go as well. I was in 4th after the first run and had a horrible looking second run, so I moved back a spot to 5th. I was pretty disappointed with that but I am doing better now.

I wanted to go to Park City knowing that I was in a good place to make the world cup team, but instead I will just have to come from behind and slide the best I ever have in Park City.

My mom, dad, sister, aunt, and uncle came to the races here. It was great having them. I always love having family come and watch. It keeps everything a little more relaxed because I can spend my time with them not just sitting in my room.

I got my brand new sled though and it has been amazing to slide on. It is completely sized for me so I think this entire season will be great.

Well I have packed as much as possible, hopefully my suitcase isn’t too heavy since I know my sled and runners are wayy too heavy. My flight is at 11, so I have a shuttle leaving the training center at 7am. So much better than the 2am shuttles that I normally have because of the 6am flight.

I have a few more things to finish cleaning. I’ll write some more after I do my homework tomorrow once I get to Park City.

Picture Post, Second Half.. finally right

Amazing mountains driving up towards Igls Nest
Amazing mountains driving up towards Igls Nest

After spending Christmas and New Years at home, I packed what I would call a months worth of clothes and my equipment and headed to Europe. I say what I would call a month of clothes because with all of the tools and extra bags and snow gear that I travel with I most definitely don’t bring enough shirts or jeans! That’s when you wash your clothes in the bathtub, its quite fun actually.

First stop in Europe was Konigssee, Germany for World Junior

Morning of the race World Junior Championships
Morning of the race World Junior Championships

Championships. I finished 8th in this race, not exactly what I was hoping for but I was having a hard time with Kreisel (a 360 degree corner with very high pressures and oscillations). Don’t get me wrong 8th was much better than the world cup race the year before with my amazing crash out of Kreisel. It was a crazy looking crash. Only fun to laugh at now because I didn’t get hurt from it! The best part about Konigssee is the Hofbrauhaus. They have the most amazing beer in such an awesome atmosphere! Great prices too, you can get a beer and a pretzel for about $4.

The drive from Konigssee to Munich to pick up a teammate, Kimber was

Stopped traffic on the autobahn
Stopped traffic on the autobahn

next.  It’s only about a 2hr drive normally. Caleb and myself drove up the mountain that Hitler’s Igls Nest is on. Since it was winter we couldn’t drive all the way to the top, but the picture at the top of the post is from a stop we made. It was beautiful! After that we headed to the Autobahn to continue the drive. We were on the autobahn and the over signs were lit up but I just thought it meant slow traffic ahead. Made sense from the picture of cars and the word Stau. Well come to find out Stau meant stopped traffic. We came to a full on stop with nothing in sight. When stopped in traffic in Europe everyone turns off their engines and gets out of the car and just walks around. We were stopped for about 3hrs, all of which I had to use the bathroom. It was horrible, I was the happiest camper when we started moving again.

Caleb me and Kimber top of Cortina
Caleb me and Kimber top of Cortina

Once we picked up Kimber we headed to Cortina, Italy for not even a 24hr stop. There is a bobsled track in Cortina but skeleton does not use it. This was supposed to be the first year we could compete on it but due to financial problems they did not open the track. We wanted to see the town since we were probably never going to go there otherwise. The drive in was the most amazing, it looked as if we would just fall off the edge. The town itself was very cute, and small. We had the best dinner at the hotel. I love Italy they feed you so much it is incredible! The next day we went searching for the bobsled track, it was covered with snow and took us a long time to find. The corners are very tall and tight, it would be a very difficult and painful track for skeleton.

We were on our way to Cesana, Italy but decided to take about 2 hours and stop in Venice. Unfortunately it was a rainy, muggy day but it was still

The canals of Venice
The canals of Venice

amazing to see Venice. We had the best pasta for lunch and the waiter had told us that just three weeks before all the streets had flooded about a foot and a half. I was surprised at how much graffiti was on the very old buildings. The whole time I was wishing that someone or the entire family could have been there also. I really think that every place I am, I am so lucky I get to travel to all these beautiful places but I wish everyone could come as well. I did a little shopping for Murano Glass necklaces, they are the most beautiful things I had seen in a long time. Shortly after the weather was getting worse and we needed to head to Cesana. I want to go back to Venice soon though!

Climbed to the top of the snow pile
Climbed to the top of the snow pile

We had two races in Cesana this year, just like last season world cup. I will admit I was not looking forward to them. There was so much snow in Cesana a record I think for the town. We stay up about 2000more ft up the mountain in Sestriere. It is beautiful there and there was about 7ft of snow. The first night we got there till the morning they got about another 2ft. I have never

Start Cesana, Italy
Start Cesana, Italy

seen that much snow in my life it was amazing! Training was going alright I was doing better than I was the year before but still not catching on as much as I would have liked. Race day #1 did not go so well for me I finished 12th. Race day #2 I had the best first run of the week, but my second run was so bad that I ended in 7th place just outside the medals. It was ok I learned a lot a was still pretty happy.

The three of us headed on a little detour because we had about 3 days off

Trying to climb the castle
Trying to climb the castle

without sliding. We went to wine country in Italy. We met with 2 winemakers and they sat and opened many bottles of wine for us. It was all wonderful, they were very generous and kind. The towns were so cute, we got there on a Sunday so nothing was going on, but the weather was gorgeous so we enjoyed ourselves. We found an amazing pizza place for dinner that night and just relaxed.

The next stop was Igls, Austria, one of my favorite

First cup medal!
First cup medal!

places mainly for the start. Its long and flat perfect for me to push fast, but hard to find speed. We stay and slide in Igls but Innsbruck is just down the mountain and it is a beautiful town, very old

6th place Igls, Austria
6th place Igls, Austria

but there is a lot to do. The race went really well I finished in 6th place, behind some veterans who have been sliding for years. I always want to do better but I realized a little bit about getting speed out of this track.

The last stop of the European Tour was also the first, back to Konigssee,

Loading the sled
Loading the sled

Germany for a final race. I had different problems this time. But again a second time for more learning is always good. I enjoy this track even though I have had so much trouble on it. I finished in 9th place, which was not what I had planned. I had a great first run and just a few mistakes the second, but it cost me a few places and I fell back. By the end of the trip nothing too exciting was happening, it was just time to head back to the states. A month in Europe changing locations every week is taxing. But I love it still and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sorry this took so long to finish. I loose track of days I guess even my month. Everything gets so scrambled. I won’t let it happen again this summer!