We’re done. Two week training camp learning to slide finished. Where has the time gone? We have settled into a nice little routine, how are we supposed to just simply revert back to normal life? The feeling is weird. And sad. It is highly unlikely I will get the opportunity to be with all of these people in the same place again, simply because of the logistics of life, and it seems like our Power2Podium journey has come to a sudden halt. Tomorrow (Friday), all of the staff that includes Psychologists, S&C coaches, Push Start coaches, Ice coaches, Performance Director and Performance Pathway Scientists will all decide what men and women will join the World Class Talent Programme with British Skeleton and begin a new career as an elite athlete. For us, we simply travel home and wait for the call and I can genuinely say I have no idea what way it will go for me, or the others. We have absolutely no clue as to what they are looking for or what factors outweigh each other. Is it physical attributes, psychological attributes, how we interact with people, memory recall, how we deal with foreign environments, what skills we bring to the team, how well we listen, how well we adapt or even how much weight our previous stages have compared to this ice camp. Of course all of the areas I have mentioned will be considered (and probably many more), but based on what I can grasp I cannot make a call on who will be put forwards as it is not straight forward or simple.
On that note, I feel I should make a reference to some questions I get, because I often get asked about my ‘competition’ and how I feel I am doing in comparison to others. As I have said in the first paragraph, there are multiple areas of focus for these coaches and each will bring their expert opinion to the table. We do not know what focused areas outweigh each other either. Furthermore I cannot compare myself to my peers as I do not have the knowledge to do so. Yes we can say “XYZ went from the top today” or did this or that, but that does not give you an automatic green light. At least I am not convinced it does. British Skeleton have invested a vast amount of time and money to look at a multitude of areas, so to boil it down to something like that is daft. It may play a part, but how much I will probably never know. We may look at it like that because we want to use it as a way of quantifying our comparisons with one another, whereas we cannot quantify how someones recall is during video feedback or what qualities we bring to a team environment, etc.
Regarding the ‘competition’ comments, this always makes me laugh, and I will explain why. Since Phase 3 there has been an emphasis on the ability to work alongside others, both professionally on the ice – to help each other learn and pull each other up, which in turn improves the performance of all athletes and therefore raises your standards when competing against other nations – and also socially, to provide support, to encourage and to help relax away from the chaos. This is an individual sport, yes, however it has been drilled into our minds that we need to work together. All the time. Fortunately this ice camp has been incredibly easy to do so as I have got along with every single person. So to make my point, these other guys are not my ‘competition’, they are my teammates. I know people will gain selection and people will be dropped, that is sport and the nature of this process, however none of us look at each other as competition. In fact I can call these people my friends.
So it is now approaching midnight as I type this and we are due to be in the cars on route to Lillehammer train station in 3.5 hours. I think I am going to be tired! Nonetheless I will run through my day. Usual start. Breakfast, bit of sled maintenance, packed up the van and off to the track. Track walk which was being done with a little jog by the end of it as the track staff followed us down with hoses, and then preparation before our session. Two runs today. Both from the top for me (which is new to start at the top). New areas to visualise, plus more steers. I think this is also a good point to talk quickly about the insane amount of information we have been trained to learn, adapt, visualise and implement. There are 16 corners on the Olympic track in Lillehammer. We are pretty much expected to remember everything, with a main focus on corners between 4-13 (we talk very little about corners pre and post at this stage). So lets say nine corners of focus. Nine corners where we need to remember our position on the track on entry into the corner, where our sled was pointing, what steer we applied (and when, and for how long), then how the corner felt (big/little oscillations, how we controlled the second oscillation if they existed), what our exit out of the corner was, the transition between each corner and finally what we did if we implement a Plan B. Nine pieces of information, per corner. Eighty-one pieces of information, minimum, to remember per run. Three runs per session. Simple, right?
Thankfully we are able to make our track notes quite quickly after each run so that we don’t have to retain the information all day until the video review. Anyway, back to my runs. Both felt good on the top section, small scrapes in places but I handled them well. The bottom half on both runs were horrible. I took some big hits, more than I have prior to today and my upper left arm/elbow, left hand, outside of my left calf and my ankle are all struggling. The right hand side of my body is having the time of its life whilst my left hand side has been bullied. I am expecting serious bruises, but we will see. I felt pretty broken after the second run and to be honest, I was quite glad the session was over. Got back to the hotel afterwards to sort our sleds out, stripping them back and taking some taping and our saddles off – sad times. Video review followed and then back to the cabins to pack, which I did not do. I rested my poor body. Dinner with our pre-planned crappy shirts that provided some good entertainment, and then we went back to sort the packing out. I packed my suitcase in ten minutes. Winning. Loaded up the cars in preparation for the morning and then spent the rest of the evening in the cabin/hotel bar with all the guys just relaxing, singing to a whole host of stuff (sorry snapchat) and playing a twist on Pictionary using Cards Against Humanity sayings. It is tough to draw and guess!
What we probably all wanted was to go out to a bar somewhere and have a cheeky pint, or two, but it got to 1030 and I think our tiredness struck hard. Plus the realisation that we had less than 5 hours sleep at that point. Journeyed back to the cabins and pretty much went to bed (where I am now writing this). Horribly early start in under three hours and I will be back in the UK come 10am. I am looking forward to it.
So this is it from me in Norway. I have absolute loved this experience over the last nine months, in particular the Bath training camp and most especially my time in Norway with the fantastic Skele family. Something I will never forget, and a thrill ride I will struggle to better. I may post a blog on the outcome of selection if I can find the words, we shall see.
Ser deg senere!