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Victory in France!

La Plagne, France!

Race highlights
http://www.youtube.com/user/bobskeletv

This stop on tour was a last minute replacement when the 2006 Olympic track in Cesana, Italy was cancelled. I was somewhat disappointed when the international federation made the change 1) I have had a little bit of success in Cesana and 2) I haven’t slid La Plagne in 11 years… I wasn’t so sure if I was wanted to go back to this abrupt , high g-force track. All I could remember about this track was that a new roof system had to be installed because sleds were actually getting launched out of the track… Great… just what my nerves needed… My 1st run down the track I had an unexpected hit between corners 10 & 11 and I got lost… I was panicking trying to regain my whereabouts so I could get prepared for the deadly corner 15 where the g-forces are so strong barely anyone can go through it without their foreheads dragging on the ice and you can actually see the bodies get crushed into the corner as it hairpins to the right at 125km/hr…. I got to the bottom, disoriented & completely shaken up.

I had no idea what had happened. I was talking with teammates and my coach Duff hoping that something in our conversation would trigger what went wrong…. How did I get lost? I don’t remember the last time I experienced something like that… maybe when we 1st slid the Torino track in 2004… but it has been a very long time since I have been lost on a track… thankfully I figured out where my hit happened about 5 sliders before it was time to go down again and I had a little more confidence as I threw myself off the top for a 2nd run. We only had 8 runs to figure out this difficult intimidating track so as a team we spent hours everyday talking about the corners what each of us were experiencing in each corner and watching video. We were up at 6 every morning to get to the track to walk it and study the profiles. We were the 1st team to arrive everyday and the last team to leave. Watching every sled in every corner to soak up every opportunity to learn. Needless to say it didn’t take very long before exhaustion set it. Especially at approx. 10 000ft altitude. Still getting workouts in and 3 meals… And find some time for balance… right now the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas, NV are going on, so I was eager to get results and watch highlights and I was fortunate to watch every round of the barrel racing, even catching a new arena record set by Carlee Peirce!!!! And then for our Canadian girl Lindsay Sears to be crowned new World Champion… it made me miss home, miss my horses Rascal & Pepi but it also gave me that extra bit of energy I needed to look forward to March when I can get my horses back in shape and hit the rodeo trail myself.

Training had gone pretty well for the Canadians, but training is training I never have expectations for a race. I was approached by FIBT TV to do the color commentating for the men’s race on Friday. I hesitated for a moment; thinking maybe I should stay rested and focused on my own race. But I quickly dismissed that concern… now is the time to be taking every opportunity possible to learn about myself. If I can’t call a race the day before my own race because it’s going to mess with my plan, then I need to toughen up! It was a great experience sitting beside Martin Haven, he made it a comfortable learning environment even tho it was live TV!

I had to get up at 520am the morning of my race to get my stim workout in. That was the only issue with the TV gig, it cut into my pre race workout, but again being an experimental year perfect opportunity to see which schedule is best. I definitely feel comfortable in the competitive environment. Race Days seem just like any other day. I assume having 17 years of this experience has helped get into this mind frame, but I honestly think it was my time spent this summer on the rodeo circuit help me feel like this is a normal environment.

I drew #3 right after my teammate Sarah Reid #2 and as I stood on the block I felt comfortable but without expectations. La Plagne has a long flat start and we all joke that it’s a start for endurance athletes because we have to take a couple more steps than most starts…. I had a decent run and came down with a time of 63.00 and was good enough to be sitting in 1st. As the rest of the field slid, I held onto my lead by almost 3/10ths of a second and I would be “the last woman standing” at the top for the 2nd run (that’s what the announcer kept saying over and over again! Ahaha) I didn’t run far enough on my 1st run so I asked the guys on my team to help me out. I needed a verbal cue for when it was time for me to load on my sled. Our plan was either going to be golden or it was going to be a disaster. As we talked about how they were going to cue me, I suggested that when I get to my point to load they yell “NOW”… I could see the look on their face that they weren’t comfortable with that plan. They suggested that when they stop yelling I load. I was putting so much trust in them… and I had a lot to lose if it didn’t work and I got distracted.

We always have a big break between runs so I take this opportunity to reenergize and I take time for myself. How I spend this time is always different and it’s very personal. But this picture says it all!!! (stay tuned for picture)

Tyson Plesuk our new team physio has been the glue to our team this year. We are guaranteed entertainment and I’ve never worked with someone who cares as much as Tyson does, he gets pretty nervous before our races so I’ve had to use some of my sport psych experience with him… its ok Tyson, you will be conditioned and ready by the time we are in Sochi!!! 😉

Being the last one at the top can be a little lonely, but I kept thinking about my horses and remembering what I learned this summer, how I stayed connected with them after our warm ups and ready for our run… it was amazing how much the mental & emotional game transfers over. As I was walking to the line, Annie O’Shea of USA rocketed off a brand new start record… This could be distracting if I let be, but I’m not racing Annie, I’m against the clock, working with my sled and the ice… making my own story. She had a great down time and secured at the very least a Silver medal for her country and her very 1st podium appearance in her career. I actually remember feeling happy for her as I approached the block and I was immersed in the American celebrations.

I was standing on the block relaxed and emotionally numb… this sounds sadistic but what I have learned this is part of the plan. Zero expectations. When I’m on my sled I am present and flowing, not mechanical and irrational. I have a slight mis-step off of the block but I fight threw it and the only intentional focus I have is listening and trusting my teammates that they will tell me when to load on the sled, and trust myself that I have the ability to run that far and to have the agility to time my load. It works out perfectly and I end up improving my start by 6/100ths and a 6th place ranking! I have another consistent run and unlike my 1st run down the track at the beginning of the week I know exactly where I am and of course being critical of my mistakes as I am sliding at 123km/hr down the French Olympic track. As I am sliding up the outrun I am looking for someone to tell me the result of the race, all the clocked showed was my current down time, but I don’t know how that compared to the rest of sliders. Everyone was looking at me with blank faces… so I wasn’t sure if I had won or lost… I had to ask my manager Scott what happened and he non-chalauntly told me I had won… Huge relief… 1st Gold in 2 years… La Plagne, France was very good to me today…

We are headed to Winterberg, Germany for the last World Cup before the Christmas break… I will get to wear the yellow jersey as the World Cup leader so make sure you wish all of our team the best of luck when we race Friday & Saturday!

http://eurovision.digotel.com/fibt/index.html or http://www.cbcsports.ca for live streaming


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4 Comments

  1. Dad
    Posted December 11, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Great job we are cheering

  2. Randy Metchewais
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Good morning Mellisa! We watched your highlights on Sunday and your bronze was great to see. Glad you are feeling healthy and in balance. Go hard and the rest will take care of itself. From your fans at C.L.F.N.!!!!

  3. Randy Metchewais
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Such great news to hear your bronze medal effort, and now a gold!!! So proud of you and the message you brought to C.L.F.N. in June 2011. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK AND REMEMBER THE BALANCE PERSON IS THE HAPPIEST PERSON. Keep on sliding!!!!

  4. Craig
    Posted December 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    It was a great set of races, Mellisa. Have fun and best of luck in Winterberg

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