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The Olympic Season...past | RindyLoucks.com

The Olympic Season...past

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Oh. My. Goodness. Over a year! Hmmm…I certainly do well at procrastination don’t I? In my defense though, it was a BIG year. However, I suppose some of you may have actually liked to hear about it while it happened. Onwards and upwards though.

Not very realistic to give you a point by point of what happened last season so I will give you a synopsis ‘nutshell’ version – as best I can..there is a lot to cover.

As most of you know I was trying to ‘make a run’ for the 2010 games. All these years of training, sacrifice and financial destitution weren’t just for the pure joy of sliding (though that definitely is a part of it!).

Qualification for the games (and for any World Cup Championship race for that matter) is a points game. Based on points gleaned from one’s races in that given season. For the Olympic season qualification points were to be gained from a total of 7 races. Not qualified for the World Cup (WC) circuit I have the ability to race on the Americas’ Cup (AC) circuit and the Intercontinental Cup (IC) circuit. The later of which is one level below the WC and is worth more points per race position than the equivalent position on the AC circuit. Seemed a no brainer then to race the IC circuit.

The season started off with joining up with my previous seasons travel partners and friends, the New Zealand IC skeleton athletes of Katharine Eustace and Michael Coutts (Couttsie!!!) and we started with our preseason training in Lake Placid New York for two weeks. From there I went to the (minimal) International Training offered at the Whistler track (for ‘just in case’ so that I wouldn’t potentially be qualifying for the Olympics and never have been on the track). Once preseason was done it was on to the race season!

The IC circuit started in Europe. And like I said one would have thought that it was a ‘no brainer’ to compete in the race circuit where the positions are worth more points…essentially. But of course that all depends where one finishes in a race, how many athletes come out for a given race, and WHO comes out for a given race. Well as it happens we ALL thought it was a great idea to race IC…including a number of WC athletes. And that left the first IC race stacked and the AC circuit with mostly development athletes competing in it. Once this was determined a few athletes in Europe jumped ship and quickly jaunted off to the AC races in the hopes of snagging some of the top positions and in turn earning more points than they would have at the Winterburg races with the WC athletes competing. Of course…on a shoe string budget continent hopping is not an option. So I stuck it out in Europe with Kat and Michael-our wee small nation 'team'.

In Europe I did OK. Didn’t do great. Had a wild (and very wet) exit one day out of the final curve in Winterburg. NEVER managed to solve the puzzle of corners 4-5 in Cesana (a fun but my least favorite (read successful) track), and had a GREAT time in Konigssee despite my ‘Achilles Heel’ of my start (and this being a’ starter’s’ track). Coming off the European leg I was behind in the points but not insurmountably. So I still had optimism for the North American races and my overall ability to still qualify a spot for the games.

From Europe it was back to Lake Placid...and some GORGEOUS scenery (see above - though this photo was from the IC in January).

IC races were done ‘til after Xmas. So I competed in the AC lake Placid race and finished 6th….so a top 10 finish!

Unfortunately though an AC race 6th is not worth near as many points as my closest competitor had received for her 8th or 11th in Winterburg (her ‘home’ track). Urrgghh!
However…there were still three IC races left…two of which were on MY home track – Calgary.

Are you starting to wonder where the ‘nutshell’ part of this version comes in?


Although it was a long shot I was still pinning my sights on the Calgary race. Thinking that perhaps if I could pull off some higher placing finishes I would keep the dream alive for 2010. However that was pretty much dashed when we saw who showed up for the Calgary races. Calgary was the last time for any athlete and nation to get points for the games. And as such a number of the bigger (read best) nations were looking to acquire or hold on to their third spot for the Olympics. Ergo they sent their ‘big guns’: Anya Huber from Germany, Michelle Kelly from Canada, Amy Gough from Canada…..

When all was said and done, the long and short of it is that I missed qualifying for the games. Essentially by two spots.

So I did the next best thing…I went to the Olympics and supported all my peers and friends. It is a pretty unique and amazing experience to be at an event of that caliber and you literally know, on a personal level, every single one of the athletes coming down that track! As close to behind the scenes as you could get.

And with a huge portion of the sliding world also there to support the sport and their peers one couldn’t walk through the Village of Whistler without encountering someone they knew. It truly was a fantastic time. Bittersweet. But an experience unlike anything else! And the only thing I would probably trade it for would have been qualifying for the Olympics!