Well, another World Cup circuit is officially finished for another year! Although I was only on tour since Christmas, the time still flew by a lot faster than I was expecting, especially the last two races.
The last two races we were in St. Moritz, Switzerland and Cesana, Italy. Apparently this was the last bobsleigh race to be held in Cesana. The other tracks tend to make money, but the Cesana track has been struggling. So it has recently been sold, will be blown up, and turned into a golf course – a somewhat rare commodity in Europe.
In terms of results, Kaillie and I finished 4th in St. Moritz and 5th in Cesana. We were sitting in 2nd place after the first heat of the Italian race, but then Kaillie over-drove a bit during the second run and we fell to 5th. However, placing 5th was still an achievement considering her steering system had been completely changed the week before, giving it a new sensation and making it challenging to keep consistent. And now that we’re heading into World Championships, we’ve both been hearing from people that we’re peaking at the right time! I hope they’re right!
After the last race of the tour in Cesana, the FIBT also handed out the trophies for overall point standings of the season. Kaillie (Team Humphries) came 3rd overall. Kaillie and I made sure to bring Heather Hughes up on the podium with us as she’s been an important part of our season. The pilot always gets a huge trophy, and only one smaller version is given to the brakemen (to share if required). Kaillie said that we should share it, with one of us keeping it for six months and then sending it to the other for the next six months (since we both did 4 races during the season). However, I talked to ‘Hughesie’ later and told her that she needed to keep the trophy. She did the first half of the season because I was physically not able to run, let alone push a sled. And the only reason I’ve been able to push Kaillie in these last four races as well as I have is because ‘Hughesie’ did most of the training runs so that I wouldn’t aggravate my ankle. I know it’s frustrating to not be able to race, so I know how hard it’s been for her. But she deserved that trophy, and I hope that gives her even a little bit of insight into how important she’s been to this team. I could not have done it without her! “The Heather Team”! “Kaillie and the Heathers”!
On a different note, my last blog prompted some questions about tracks: are they different; do I have a favourite; track records; etc., and I though I would take a minute to answer them and give an insight into the sport. Every bobsleigh track is different – different number and direction of corners, different grade of slope, different steepness even at the start, etc. This means that there is a track record and push-start record at every track. Some tracks have corners that are much more abrupt and, regardless of how well they are driven, can leave the athletes feeling bruised and battered. Other tracks, however, are much smoother – more like an easy water slide.
St. Moritz, Switzerland is the home of the first ever bobsleigh track, and is, still to this day, the only natural track in the world. This means that in the summer, you would not find a track, but instead a trail of wood chips, making up a walking path for people to follow the route that the track follows. Every winter, the track is carved out of snow and spritzed with water to make the ice. So although the track follows the same path and the same direction of turns and corners, the slope might be different, the depth and height of the corners might be different, the slope at the start might be steeper or flatter… So it is the only track in the world that has a new start record and track record every year! This year (as well as the last two years), Kaillie and I have gotten the start records. And, just as a side note, this was the first track that Kaillie and I ever raced on together. And… this is the track that we crashed on during that first week of sliding together!
And yes, I do have my favourite tracks. I like the track in Whistler, but maybe that’s because it brings good memories! But I would have to say that my favourite tracks are St. Moritz and Konigssee (Germany). Both are for reasons of both the feeling of sliding on that particular track, AND because of the environment – the social environment and crowds of people watching, the layout and atmosphere, and also the location of each track and the history that comes with each. St. Moritz has the history of bobsleigh and looks like it is the set for movies, while Konigssee (which is actually the name of the lake and national park that is in/beside Bertchesgarten) is the home of so much history from the second World War. It is actually overwhelming sometimes, to think of what happened in this town (yes, I am here now for World Championships) during the war. Bertchesgarten was the central base for the SS party, and from the bobsleigh track you can actually see Hitler’s Eagles’ Nest at the very top of one of the mountains! There are some things/places in life that really make you stop and realize how blessed you are… This place is one of them!
Anyway, enough information for one day. I am currently in Konigssee, Germany right now preparing for the World Championships that will take place next weekend. I would appreciate you sending your fast and strong thoughts my way! I hope you’re all happy and healthy.