|Countdown clock to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in
|Kate Hansen, me, and Erin Hamlin watching the doubles in
|My nephew Lucas preparing for Russia|
We just wrapped up our international season, with our final competition of the year in Sochi doubling as our final World Cup and the test event for the Winter Games, which are quickly approaching. Mother Nature was not on my side getting to Sochi and I ended up arriving a day and a half later than my teammates, thus missing out on three of the seven training runs that were allotted to us. Missing runs, especially on the Olympic track, is disappointing and I surely could have used them. The track in Sochi is unique in design and layout. The track is long – 50-51 seconds from the women starts – and has three distinct uphill sections, so as you can imagine maximizing your speed is crucial. It isn’t really a technically difficult track, but it is hard to find extra speed, and any small mistakes will cost you greatly. All of those combined are going to make for an exciting and close race next February. I finished 10th in the World Cup. Heading into the week, I was planning on a top-8 finish, but given my runs in training and subsequently the race, I am satisfied with my placing despite the driving mistakes I made. I am confident that with more training runs, which we will have next November at the international training week, this can be a great track for me and I can be a contender. But surely there is much to be done in the off-season to ensure I can continue with my success I have seen this year.
I am heading home to Maine now for a week, while our sleds are being shipped back to Lake Placid. My body is quite fatigued so I am looking forward to a one-week break. I will return to Lake Placid for two more weeks of sliding before I pack up my sled for the winter. There are some seeding races that are taking place in Lake Placid, but because of my performance this winter I am exempt from racing and am already qualified for next year’s fall World Cup team. I will use these two weeks to test some of my equipment and see if there is any more speed to be found with minor adjustments to my runners. This week at home, I will take some time to reflect on my season. I had many highs and personal bests this year, including winning my first national championship title, my first World Cup medals (two silvers), and multiple individual personal bests on the World Cup tour on various tracks around the world. My results this season were 6th, 23rd, 22nd, 10th, 6th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 2nd and 10th. It was my most consistent season ever and I ended up sixth overall in the World Cup rankings as the highest U.S. athlete in any discipline.
My biggest disappointment came at World Championships, where I finished ninth. Don’t get me wrong – after not competing for a year, a top-10 finish is great, but when you finish a race knowing you were capable of more, it is a tough feeling to shake. And I will use all of this information and data from my races this year to map out my training plan for this spring and summer. So much of my training last year paid off for me, but my biggest focus will be incorporating more sliding-specific workouts so that when I get back on the sled next October, I waste no time finding my rhythm. I am ending this season feeling quite satisfied with myself, and look forward to the daily grind coming up in less than a month as I prepare for the Olympic season.