Silver at Canadian Championships 2012

The sliding season is officially over, 2 months now.  It’s a bittersweet feeling.  Sweet because it was a long season with hundreds of runs down the track and the brain and body need a break; bitter because I love to slide, and knowing it will be months until I get to do it again is more than a little depressing.

Provincials, as discussed in a recent post, was a bit of a disappointment.  But it gave me some important answers to questions I had been struggling with for months.  For Canadian Championships, I decided to go back to my regular sled, Moe.  This sled has been with me for a couple of seasons and I know how it works inside and out, and most importantly it’s fast. I had one week of training to get used to it again before Canadians, after sliding on the new sled for weeks, but it only took a couple of runs to get up to speed.  Training went well, and I was optimistic for a good race to finish off the season.

Canadian Championships is an interesting race for a number of reasons. First, a wide variety of sliders compete, from brand new to Olympic champions.  It is rare to get to race against this varied group during the season, because most races are done on a specific circuit against mostly the same people.  Also, a lot of spectators come out (I will admit it’s a little different watching a race at the end of March compared to the beginning of January!), making the start area full of energy with cow bells, cheering, and feet stamping on the stands.  Another different component to this race is that it is a four heat race over two days.  This format is the same as World Championships and the Olympics.  Unlike a two heat race where a race can be won with one great run, or lost with one terrible run or small mishap, a four heat race is all about consistency.    It is also a test of how well your training program is laid out, as it is important to have the stamina to push and slide well at the end of a long season.

On race day, I was most concerned with having 4 consistent runs.  I didn’t have high hopes for my push, as I had been fighting with an episode of back pain for the previous 2 weeks.  On the first day, I had two decent runs, and was in second place at the end of the day.  My pushes were what I predicted–in the pack, but not overly fast. I was nearly a second behind first place, so I knew to moving up a spot was extremely unlikely. On the other side, all I needed was two more consistent runs to clinch the silver.

The second day, with heats three and four, went better.  I somehow managed to push a personal best with tired legs and a sore back, which was a great surprise for me.   After the third heat, and solidly in second place, I decided to take a risk and increase my rock to the highest I have ever slid on.  It was a huge risk for me but I decided to push my limits and see what would happen.  The ice was soft, and the air was warm; it was perfect conditions for an aggressive setup.  Plus, it was the last run of the year and I wouldn’t get another chance to prove to myself I could do it until the fall.

I had a good push, and a nice run.  I crossed the finish line in 1st place, with one slider left.  This meant I had clinched the silver medal!  Plus, I did get a first place ranking that run.  That meant my aggressive set-up paid off.  It kind of made me wonder what would’ve happened if I tried it earlier in the race (or in the season for that matter), but I tried to remember my motto “no would’ve beens!” and forget about it.  I also narrowed the gap to first place to 4/10ths of a second, another improvement over the first day of racing.

It was a great finish to a long and overall fantastic season.  It was a year of firsts, and full of personal bests.  It gives me hope and optimism for the future.  I plan to carry forward the momentum to the off-season dryland training and into next season’s selection series.  The upcoming season is going to be a big one.  It’s a pre-Olympic year and Olympic qualifier races will start.

I would like to take a moment to thank all my supporters over the past few years.  It hasn’t been an easy journey and without you I wouldn’t be where I am now.  A special thanks to my parents and family for always cheering me on no matter how I finish, and for coming out to watch me race when you can.  Also, thanks to my coaching staff and support structure, including my awesome teammates (too numerous to list but you know who you are), Kelly Forbes, Ken Wong, Keith Loach, Duff Gibson, Nathan Cicoria, Karen MacNeill, Chris AndersonLori Chaki-Farrington, Diana Rochon, Cris Paes, Greg Uchacz, the Canadian Sports Center Calgary, and the Canadian Sports Center Pacific.  Plus, to the staff at South Calgary Urgent Care- you rock!  Thanks for your flexibility, support and understanding.  Last but not least to Alexis Gagnon Morris (and his amazing family) for putting up with me through the good and the bad.

Now onto the off season…and beyond!

[nggallery id=8]