So You Want to Ride a Bobsled Part 2
When we last left I was just arriving in Whistler and getting ready to start training. For my first week I was paired up with an Olympic Brakeman who is transitioning to become a pilot; Luke Demetre. Luke participated in the 2014 Sochi Olympics as a Brakeman, and I was honoured to jump in the back. We progressed from Corner 3 (16 corners total at the Whistler Track) to the top of the track known as Bob Start. Unfortunately, we had a crash on our third day in Corner 14 which resulted in me injuring my left shoulder. This ended my week and kept me out of a sled for almost a month.
While the crash was unexpected and startling, I worked as hard as I could to return, aided by Murray Schneider and Cheryl Chatwin, owners of Eclipse Physiotherapy in Langley.
The return to the track was exhilarating! My full-time pilot David Eastwood and I clicked immediately and knew exciting things were to come.
With our first races approaching on December 20 and 21, we trained with a bobsleigh on wheels to work on our push starts and slid 3-5 times a week.
The week of our races we had 2 days of sliding followed by a day of Official Training. Official Training dictates that in order to slide in the races you need to complete two crash free runs. Official Training was on Friday, December 19. Our third run on Thursday night was going as well as usual when unexpectedly we slowly tipped over at the exit of Corner 9. It was as gentle as a “crash” as you could have, and luckily after we stopped at the finish line, we didn’t slide backwards at all. We casually chatted in the sled waiting for the track crew to arrive and let us safely leave the sled. Our banter went something like this; David – “You ok?” Steve – “Yup, you ok?” David – “Yes. Sorry mate didn’t want to do that!” Steve – “All good, these things happen.”
This of course wasn’t what we had planned the day before Official Training!
Thankfully Official Training went off without a hitch.
We had zero nerves. We were a team, and we performed as a team. With David starting sitting in the sled, I pushed a 5.96 second start time, which was exciting for me. Sled and pilot combined for a weight of 265kgs (583lbs) so to push under 6 seconds in my first race by myself, brought me some personal pride. (Side note – the best 2 man bobsled teams in the world both run in and their push start times are closer to 5 seconds). For Race #1 we finished first almost 3 seconds ahead of the 2nd place team. Race #2, I pushed 5.96 seconds again and this time we finished in first place by almost 5 seconds. First 2 races in the books and came away with 2 wins!
The second half of the season has just started. We will be having more Races in BC and Alberta coming up soon! In my next post, I will discuss what our training typically looks like and will answer any questions you have!