Safety First

Hunderfossen – The small road leading to our cabins
Woke this morning feeling pretty tired. Took me a while to nod off, not entirely sure why. Didn’t unpack properly so I found myself running around trying to uncover where I had packed the basics so I could wash and layer up for the chilly day ahead. Breakfast at 830am and at the ice track by 9am – not for a track walk unfortunately as there were athletes using it, so we walked down the side of it instead. The idea was to get some context about the course – how long it is, what the corners look like (left/right little/big short/long) and some reference points to remember where we are when on our sleds. I have been a little worried about the lack of time spent preparing any imagery of the track in my mind, particularly as I did not want to play catch up learning the order and type of corners. Thankfully a few visualisation practices along the walk and I felt comfortable knowing the basics – now to add the details when we get inside the track itself tomorrow. We saw some Luge and Skeleton athletes on their training runs whilst walking down and wow, the speed is mental. It makes me both excited and nervous as hell. Possibly the first time I have questioned my sanity.

We came back from the morning walk with a sled workshop in mind. Something relatively simple turned into a complete strip back of our sleds along with a wake up call. I think it is fair to say that 99.9% of people state Skeleton athletes slide on a “tea tray”, and although it has its comical value, the importance of these sleds is definitely overlooked. Not only is it a device to get us from top to bottom as quick as possible but it is a device that must be safe, and by safe I mean it has to withstand huge amounts of pressures. The architecture of the sled is quite incredible and it is intricate too. A steel framed body with a fibre glass base on two runners (the blades underneath) that can withstand the pressures of 5G. For those of you who do not understand the context of G-force, you simply multiply the G-force number with your body weight. If I enter a 5G corner, and I weigh 72kg, the force pushing down on me and my sled is 360kg. So back to my point. One of the sleds had a loose bolt which triggered this strip back of our sleds for a thorough check, and for me it was quite important because I have considered my safety, but simply assumed I will be safe with the equipment provided and the guidance from our coach. What I had not considered is how easy things could go wrong and how important it is for me to check my sled to ensure my own safety. Lesson one. Spent the next 2.5 hours sorting my sled out and helping some others (changing the saddle, adding the padding, taping it down, changing the rock, setting the footprint – just jargon right?). Shout out to our Ice Coach Woody who was in there for probably 9 hours dealing with everyone.

Step One – Strip back the sled
Step Two – Add the saddle and start to tape up
Finished Article – Sled all taped up
The day moved on really quickly once the workshop had begun and before I knew it we had dinner then back to the cabins and boom, 8pm. Relaxed for a little bit, put shoe goo on my spikes in preparation for Monday, and made a cuppa. The evening was spent next door in Mitdgarden 5 playing ‘Cards Against Humanity’. Tomorrow we get onto the ice itself for a track walk where I expect to be furiously making notes that will keep me safe and steady on my early runs of this training camp, then we are off to watch some Ski Jumping – how unique!

Bed time for me now. Until tomorrow.

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