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Winterberg living up to its name

Winterberg

Don’t let the door hit you on your way out… 1hr ago you were the world cup leader wearing the yellow bib, now you finished 13th & failed to qualify for the top 10 finale run tomorrow… Yesterday’s golden child… Today’s scrub….

Trust me…It was all said in good humor & I was glad our physio Tyson said it… I was laughing because there wasn’t anything else I could do… It was the 1st time in my career I wouldn’t qualify for a final run.

Winterberg, Germany… I swear it is the black hole of this earth… I’ve never understood why it’s called “Winter”berg because it’s always poured rain. Well it lived up to its name this weekend with a full fledged blizzard for our races. I don’t really believe in luck, but with this place you do need to have some luck with your race draw because it’s a guaranteed advantage. But it’s never consistent with what draw you might be wishing for… In years past, if you had an early start draw it would be an advantage because it would quickly frost up, this year the early draw meant you were a snow plow. I drew #2…

The format for this race was a trial format. Originally we were supposed to have our 2 heat combined time run Friday & the top 10 from Friday’s race would be brought back for a sudden death finale run on Saturday during the men’s bobsleigh race. It was an exciting idea to showcase our sport but no one foreseen the potential disaster due to the weather. Friday’s race was slated to start at 904am… There was about a 15-20 minute delay because of heavy snow fall. A team captains meeting was called & the jury decided to cancel the 1st heat & have a 1 heat run to decide the top 10. I learned a couple of valuable lessons… #1 Don’t take anything for granted… I had been sliding really well in training, finishing outside of the top 10 wasn’t in the ballpark of my thoughts. And #2, I now understand the importance of our 2-heat race formats, even with poor weather conditions things usually even out. So if you get a bad draw 1st heat at least you get the opportunity to make up for it the 2nd heat.

No need to take you through my run, it was uneventful & full of snow, when I saw my time I was slightly concerned… Something in my gut was saying today wasn’t my day. My gut was right every slider that was coming down the track continued to get faster than the next… Next thing we knew 4 of the top 6 sliders in the world would not qualify for the finale…

Ironically we had a conversation at dinner earlier in the week about race protests & what our head coach Duff would do if we had an unfair race & Canada was in medal positions… He said if a race is unfair, it’s unfair. You have to do the right thing…

I was doing a warm down in the start house, probably more for my mind than my body when Duff called a team meeting. Amy was sitting in 4th & Sarah was tied for 6th, both qualifying for the finale. Duff said he talked to some other coaches & a jury member & the likelihood of canceling the race was pretty much nil… He said we needed to make a decision as a team if we were going to put forward a protest. The girls both said the race was unfair. I knew it too, but again my gut was telling me Duff was right. And we had 2 Canadians in the finale… I wanted to see Amy & Sarah continue to have a great race. I didn’t even care about this particular race; what was I cared about my overall world ranking. I was sitting in 1st with a bit of a cushion, but after this race I wasn’t sure where my measly 13th place points would land me. I was extremely fortunate that my boyfriend Paul, who had been in Germany the last 3 weeks competing on the Europa cup circuit, decided to stay an extra week to support me in Winterberg. I think I had to console him more over the race result… It wasn’t that I didn’t care, but it is only a race… I am extremely fortunate to have my family and friends and all of our health… My teammate Amy’s story changed this week… having her Dad pass away the day before our race. Her family wanted her to stay to compete and see through what she had started this season. And that is exactly what Amy did on Saturday, she stood on the top of the hill with a sense of calm that came over her and acknowledged that what we do is fun… so we should enjoy every opportunity presented to us. Real life is going on around us and it isn’t easy… I don’t think I can express how proud I was of Amy when she stood in the winner’s box and eventually was crowned the champion. She was the best slider in the world that race, but to me she is one of the best PEOPLE on this earth with a heart of Gold, which is so much more valuable than a gold medal.

I spent the money and time to talk to my family from Germany, even though I was going to be back in Canada in a couple of days. It was important for me to tell them that I love them… I’m anxious to spend some time with my loved ones because we just never know when it might be the last time. We have a break for about 10 days before back on a plane on New Year’s Eve… that should be an interesting flight! My hiccup in Winterberg didn’t hurt me as bad as I thought, I will be back competing the 1st weekend of January as the #2 ranked slider in the World. Next race Altenberg, Germany January 7.


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2 Comments

  1. Shelley D
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Once again Mellisa you have shown what an amazing young woman you are! I am so proud to know you!! You show such tremendous maturity in this blog, thanks for sharing it with all of us. Our family learned long ago about the lesson you shared here – tomorrow is never guaranteed, but thanks for the reminder. Have a great Christmas – celebrating with those that make life truly meaningful.

  2. Karl Gompf
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Luv reading your blog. You provide many lessons for everyone. All the best this winter. Karl G —Manitoba

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