Friday, January 22, 2010

3 kiwi sliders qualified for the games.

Since my last post, I have been back in sunny NZ, soaking up my first true summer since 1999! A NZ Christmas with family was a nice treat following the bitter disapointment of having to return to NZ due to lack of sponsorship and funds, ending my chance of qualifying for these games, in 10 seasons of sliding for NZ this is the first time I have not managed to get the money needed to see the race season out, it is sad and gutting it had to happen while working toward my second Winter Olympics, I am thankful for the sponsorship and support that I did mange to secure, and proud to have used it well claiming two medals in Calgary in December. But this season and these Olympics were not for me, as a kiwi racing internationally is a very tough game and securing the money to do it is the hardest part. And as most kiwi athlete experience running out of money at some stage it was probably fair for me to finally add that to my journey as an athlete.

I'm currently working every hour I can trying to pay off the debts I racked up this race season.

My team mates Ben Sandford, Iain Roberts and Tionette Stoddard were just announced by the NZOC as 2010 Winter Olympic team members, it is a very big achievement for these three to have qualified for the games, Tionette and Iain only just missed out in 2006 and Ben will be going back for a second time after finishing 10th in Torino 4 years ago. Go Kiwis Go!!! I hope your all watching, as for once NZ will get to see the most awesome sport in the world live on TV.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Calgary Race two, 3rd place, bronze medal on the podium :)

Calgary race two was much better and I put down a spectacular run, one of those runs that just feel amazing, I was still and did exactly what I wanted to do and was breathing at the right places, felt totally connected with my sled, felt a push out of 8, totally clean out of 8, just loved the run, apparently the announcer was really excited (kiwi), and standing on the podium and getting my medal was very cool, felt like I was back on track.

Then I flew to Montreal and drove to Lake Placid, training in placid was not so smooth, but I was getting faster each run. Internet in Lake Placid was not good and so I have not been able to blog or keep in touch with people. The temperature has been very cold -30 Celsius, and it's a damper cold than in Calgary so it felt sooooo bad, the coldest I have ever been in my life! and the ice was very very hard with those temperatures too.

On race day on Friday I skidded in the chicanes and did not straighten up as I entered 17 and entered it pointing the wrong way sideways, the result is that you get a bit of a flick or whiplash action when you climb onto the corner and the sled straightens up but I was a couple of meters lower in the bend that I needed to be. The laws of physics mean the low line can not be maintained the whole way around so at some time I'm going to climb that corner, if not at the entry then it will be at the exit, and I did climb and hit the wooden roof and came down and hit the inside short wall and I was thinking, here I go I'm gonna flip at the fastest point and get real beat up, I was waiting for the pain but some how instincts kicked in and I managed to do some fast foot work and not flip as I climbed back up 17, but I missed 18 and climbed it on the exit and again was lucky to not flip, I came to a stop way way way down the out run, with the slowest run. Gutting. The second run, I knew that I have been sliding here for years and that was the first time I ever hit that roof and the chance of entering it sideways pointed the wrong way in such a bad skid two times in a row was nearly impossible. So I actually went into the second run ready to make up for it, the run was real nice, I felt a push out of 10 and shot out of 14 into the chicanes and got through them clean, was clocked at 114.9 and just before 17 my sled kicked out, I must have moved too much and broke it into a skid and I repeated the exact same thing, hit the roof, then the short wall then caught the lip on end of 17 and entered 18 way too late launching my self off the exit but avoiding a crash... last place. Shit. I needed good points here. There is two weeks until the next race, I still have 4 races and they are on the IC circuit which offers much much better points. My splits all week in training were good, and the chance of skidding out at that point can be reduced by either being stiller, or more easily changing my runners to ones which are sharper or have a narrower spine (dig in more so they have more control). So I'll work on it and get that last section fixed by the next race. A disapointing week, but thats part of the game. So now I'm working on keeping the feeling I had when on my sled during the Calgary race.

Lake Placid is looking like a real winter wonderland, stunning, with all the christmas decorations around town and dripping off the houses.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Calgary race one 5th place

Well after having a real arctic blast come through, with temperatures plunging to close to -30, and our first two training sessions cancelled due to the risk of us freezing to our sleds, we finally got to train yesterday in the snow. Today we raced, it was my first time back here since 2007 season, and I get one day training to prepare, not ideal. First run today was a bit messy up the top of the track I went too late into 1 and then hit the right wall on the exit, and I used my feet too much on the run. After that run I had a wee 'coach talk' with my self, I might not have a coach with me but there are still things I need to hear! and reminded my self that I can drive this track with perfect position and do not need to use my feet to steer in every curve!!! The pep talk worked, I had a beautiful second run, and only used my toe in one place and that is OK because that is how I exit that curve, my exit 8 felt so great I felt a push out and shot down the straight way with a super clean line at 117.65kmph, with only one light touch of the wall out of corner 9 (which set me up perfectly for 10). It was the best feeling run I've taken so far this season, I was totally still in the straights, and kept my clumsy feet off the ice, but can melt into the sled more and get a continuous flow and more rhythm going, so there is much more time to find but it was one of those runs that makes you want to yell all the way up the finish ramp :) it left me with a grin from ear to ear and a great shot of Adrenalin. I love it. But I need to go faster faster faster . Race two tomorrow.

Also need to find a way to fund my training over Christmas in New York and the second half the Olympic qualification races, any ideas??

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Now in Frozen Calgary

My week on ice last week was great, it was such a buzz to be back on my sled, and I was relieved to be in control of my sled from day one, there's always this little fear of getting on your sled at the start of the season and finding that for some mad reason you have totally forgotten how to control it, but that was not a problem, the only hits I took were one out of 6 and 11, when I was experimenting with a new steer, and one into 11 when I judged it wrong and got too close to the entrance wall, being still and wishing to get past it clean when you know your close did not work that time.

As far as the races go, 3 days training was not enough time for me to be ready so my results were disappointing, but like I said earlier, only my top 7 races count for Olympic qualification and I have 7 races left, so I can drop them all.

The trip to Calgary was a real adventure, a huge winter storm came in and cancelled the flights, I was shipped off to Minnesota (wrong direction) where I sat watching my connecting flight get delayed, I expected to sleep in the airport that night, but the pilot decided that while conditions were bad there were right on the line of 'acceptable' so we departed, unknown to me my runners for my sled, headed to Seattle instead of Minnesota and they did not arrive in Calgary with me. At Calgary at midnight, the airport was alive absolutely packed full of people and no way of leaving, the roads were so bad that no one was coming to pick people up, the airport shuttles that go to the hotels were not running and there were 3 very long lines for the 3 different taxi ranks, lucky I had booked a car I thought, but the car hire guy talked me out of trying to drive and recommended joining the taxi line even if it too 2 hours.

Well it took more than two hours, but finally I got a cab and we crawled along in a real blizzard with carcasses of cars strewn off the highway every couple hundred meters, it was the worst road I've been out in and I was very glad when we found the house I had a room rented in at about 3am. The owners (who I did not know) had left the light on, the door unlocked and a hot water bottle in my bed for me!

My runner bag did not show up until last night Tuesday night 4 days late, lucky that the official training was cancelled so I did not miss out. But today official training has also been cancelled, too cold under Canada's labour laws for the track crew to be working on the ice... wow! -30 last night.

So we will train tomorrow and be given 3 runs then we race. I've got a video of the track that can lay on my sled watch that helps me get the timing and a bit of feel for the track.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Great day.

So I changed my runners for this race today, my gut feeling was that the runners I had been using in training and yesterdays race were too sharp, and I was right, with a less than perfect run I went nearly a second faster in my first heat and, more importantly, I clocked the 4th highest speed 124.7kmph, for me I know I'm sliding well when I'm getting good speeds and this was the first good speed I've got since arriving. So with the confidence of knowing I was on the right runners, I decided that since I was not in the running for the podium and the points on offer were practically none, I decided to put up my rock and see if going significantly higher made a difference to my down time, usually you play around with your runner selection and rock settings in the preseason training, certainly not on race day and hit your first race knowing what your most comfortable on and what you will race with, but that's not an option and I figure best to find out now than spend tomorrows race wondering or even worse moving onto the next track still playing around for the best rock setting. My second run riding very high rock was defiantly a worth while exercise, I found out what was too high, my sled was quivering on the verge of 'out of control' so an exciting and challenging ride was had that was over a second slower than the first run and I went from the 4th highest speed to the 3rd slowest speed. This put me to 8th overall. But most importantly what I achieved to day was knowing where my rock should be, no more wondering or being temped to put it up and waste another valuable training session experimenting to find the optimum. I now know which runners and which rock setting is working best for me, and on my good run my splits ranking went 9th, 8th, 7th, then I mucked up the labyrinth and went 8th, 8th, 8th overall, this was good as I was catching and overtaking someone every split until I made a mistake in the midpoint of the track (which I can fix) but that mistake did not cause me to drop. Up until now I have not been catching or overtaking, so while again a race result of 8th is not want I wanted, I have achieved a huge amount today in respect to my preparation for my Olympic qualification races that will count, so I'm nearly on track. I'm going in to tomorrows race knowing that today I went a second faster than yesterday, and I am now only just over one second off my personal best down time, I am confident I will have the best runners and rock setting for tomorrow, I've found my high speeds again, I feel like I've achieved a lot in the 5 days I've been sliding, and I feel like I'm nearly ready to race. And, this result can also be dropped so it will not count, whew.

Another great thing today is that I had some supporters at the race! My mum emailed a friend in Aussie (Carol) to say I was racing, who emailed a friend in Salt Lake (Valerie) to say I was racing, and she came to the race with her husband (Dave), it's always great to have people here to cheer you on at the start line, and even better is that they shouted me dinner after the race (good steak sure beats tinned tuna!). Nice.

PS that odd twitter that's up on my blog to the right, it's not me, it looks like there is a problem with bloggers twitter widget (if that tech speak bamboozles you you're probably not alone) and someone is trying to fix it, if it doesn't get fixed I'll remove the widget tomorrow.

4 days on ice and improving

I've had 4 days on ice so far, still way way off my best down time, but making progress every day, going faster every day, am more comfortable on my sled everyday. Yesterday got my head down low (I know this as my chin guard ticked on the ice in the straights and I felt my eyes just peeking in the top part of my visor), was clean to 6 with no hits or skids, after 6 however I hit hard and stupidly used my toes in 11, 12 and 14 , which would have cut lots of ice and slowed me down, I know how to drive these corners with only my shoulders and knees, and need to put the feet away to go faster. I'm going to change runners as I feel like I had too much control with the ones I was using, too much control means cutting the ice more than I needed to.

There is so much to consider and think about and perform and just bring together and make happen, it really gives a new meaning to multi tasking! 8 minutes on ice so far just need so much more.

Tim says relaxation is worth a second and a half, and in the past I proved this for myself, so I must relax and melt into my sled so that I'm sliding 'with' my sled and not 'on' my sled, have not got there yet this season will focus on it today.

I'm really liking the line I'm getting through 4, in the past I would often catch the entry of 5 with a bump but I am getting through there nice, and 6 is not so hard this year, yesterday I managed to take some speed with me out of 10 drove off and felt a little boost, then mucked it up in 11, all the right feelings are coming back in bursts, haven't got that chilled out detached peacefulness yet either, that's the last thing that usually comes once everything else is in order.

But I'm loving the sensation of speed in 14-15 straight, getting that clean every run. Wore no padding yesterday as well and felt good with it, no fear of big painful hits, just need to take all these good things and make them happen through the whole run all at once and then I'll get back to my pb times (which is way faster than the winning time yesterday).

Came in 9th yesterday. Race number 2 this evening at 6.30, lucky that I have a few races that will not count for Olympic selection so I can drop yesterdays result. Time to polish up my runners, so there are no nicks or scratches and they glean beautifully and help me to get the best out of my descent.

As always I'm racing to win.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I made it just in time.

I'm in Park City Utah!!

So the TV interview worked... I sold my car! But I did not have enough money to make it to my first IC race in Europe so the tickets got cancelled (was very very bummed out). But there was one option left that was much cheaper and still left me with a pathway (a very challenging one) to qualify and compete at the Olympics, that was to go to the Park City AC race that started a week later, do all the AC's in North America and stay on in Lake Placid after Christmas and rejoin the IC series once it arrives in Lake Placid, the challenging part is that half of my qualification races will be Americas Cup races which have very little points allocated (and qualification is all about your world ranking based on points gained).

Really I need to podium at 4 Americas Cup races and get very very good results at higher points IC races. It's doable, its gonna be hard as the first race is tomorrow and I have only had 4 runs in total on my sled on ice this season so far, it couldn't be in any more of an underdog situation, but I've spent nearly 4 years dreaming of the Olympic race in February, and the last 10 living and breathing skeleton, there was no choice but to come and race and hope like hell I find a way to stay on tour...

So that was the last option left for me, but I didnt actually have the funding to do it, but not going was not an option so I am here, and I have money from sponsorship (thank you Black Cat Consulting and Nick) and selling my car and a bunch of other stuff to get my tickets and get through the first 3 and a half weeks. I need to find another sponsor or have my house sell, or have my house fill up with lots families wanting a holiday in Mackenzie district (my house is set up as a holiday rental), or sell all my runners (blades) and other sliding equipment that I don't use - I've got a for sale sign up in the start house, or someone buy my brothers car (on trademe)...

It's a bit of a gamble, heading away with out enough money but I'd rather come away and try and run out of money and have to head home knowing I did all I could, the other option was to sit at home in NZ and wonder what if....

I'll update you all on how the sliding is going tonight after I've come back from my final training session.

Friday, November 06, 2009


Thanks to Burmuda slider Patrick Singleton, my CGW interview is now on Youtube, check it out, forward it on and help me find another sponsor please!

mini sold

ok, so I've sold my mini, never expected it but my Mum and Bron (step dad) want it!! So theres $6000 towards the season and overnight I got a quote in for all my flights... $6100 which is very expensive, need to pay for them by wednesday, money for the car doesnt come in till Saturday and I still need to find a way to pay for car rental, accomadation, food and training runs.... any good ideas or keen sponsors out there?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

and the crowd goes wild

Heres the crowd goes wild interview