Lillehammer Norway Julia Clukey
My view in Lillehammer

Pre-season is officially over. I had a whirlwind of a pre-season this year compared with my prior years. Generally our season kicks off in Lake Placid, NY and on occasions we head out to Park City, UT to train there as well. This year however Lake Placid announced that it was going to be opening two weeks later than normal, with an opening day set for October 15. As an athlete who relies heavily on quantity of runs in the early part of my season to get ready for competition I knew I had to find an alternative training opportunity for those two weeks. I quickly started researching which tracks would be open the first two weeks of October, and then narrowed it down to the most feasible and beneficial training opportunities. I ended up heading overseas to slide in Lillehammer, Norway and Sigulda, Latvia. Both tracks I have never spent any length of time at for training purposes so I was anxious to really learn the tracks better.

Julia Clukey practicing
  Training in Lillehammer

Going into the trip I knew it was important because I was going to be able to ensure I reached the run count I like to have before heading into my World Cup season, but I didn’t realize how many other ways the trip and training would benefit me. Starting off my season in Lillehammer, Norway proved to be far more challenging than any prior year when I started my season on my home track in Lake Placid, NY. Having so many runs on Lake Placid I am very comfortable on the track, and often forget the importance of the basic parts of sliding, as it is easy for me to slip into a rhythm there.  Lillehammer is track that I have had minimal training on, so I was not comfortable with the driving lines; also, Lillehammer is a gliding track where the importance of being smooth and relaxed is the most important element to slide well and slide fast there. This happens to be the biggest weakness in my sliding. I will admit the first few days of sliding were rough, my lines were off, my position was terrible, I had zero level of comfort on my sled, and there was a hint of doubt in the back of my mind that I was ready for the season. But with the help of my former teammate Bengt Walden, who now coaches the Norwegian team, I was able to pinpoint areas I really need to focus on and by the end of the trip I felt like a completely different slider. I really think this was the quickest I have ever found a good rhythm in my sliding that is transferable to different tracks. I am anxious to see what my competition will hold this year.