Second Half of the Season – Taking a step back
Sometimes in life taking a step back, re-evaluating and making plans to move forward is required to achieve your goals. The second half of this season was exactly that, after the first half of the season being spent on the World Cup circuit under the guidance of Andi Schmidt I moved to the Intercontinental circuit for the second half working with Ex- slider Chris Type. Chris has now entered a coaching role within British Skeleton and who is working closely with UK sport on an elite coaching programme.
Chris and I sat down and had a very frank discussion about where I was currently and where I want to eventually be and put simply we set out a new action plan and some steps to move forward with. Igls was to be the scene for a new stage of my sliding career with Intercontinental Cup races 5 and 6. Igls has in the past been a happy hunting ground for me however this time around it wasn’t to be. In training I performed very well, with a new focus and understanding, my times and speeds were consistently amongst the top 2 and things looked good for race day, unfortunately the weather had other ideas and what can only really be described as a monsoon descended upon the track for Race 1, a situation that I was not in the slightest prepared for, I had a massive lack of grip on both runs and dropped way down in the field, not a day to remember, in hindsight a different runner choice would have helped and this has been one of those experiences to learn from! Race 2 also wasn’t one to remember, a mistake on run 1 put me down the field again and despite a much stronger second run 11th place was all that was to be salvaged. On a positive note looking at the World Cup race at this track a week or so later with similar conditions my training times and speeds would have put me in the top 7. The difference between training mentality and race mentality had never appeared clearer, my performances just weren’t forthcoming when needed, an area I intend to work hardtop deal with in future.
Race 7 and 8 were to be on the most difficult track in the World, Altenberg. The track has a nickname amongst us as ‘Altensmash’, or at least this is the politest nickname I can call it on here!! This track holds some of the most difficult corners in the World, indeed over the training week that we were here it hospitalised several athletes and sent one home with a broken arm, this is one track you don’t take lightly!!
Training went so so, and to be fair I didn’t really properly get to grips with this track, the races went similarly. A heavy snow day on the first day put pay to my race almost before I started, erratic sweeping by the track workers meant the athletes push starts were all over the place and I struggled on a track that is difficult at the best of times, let alone when there’s snow all over the track! Race 2 was a mixed bag, a crash on the first run put me on my back and into 19th place after run 1. My second run? One of the fastest of the day, frustrating to say the least and another mediocre result, however progress at this point is not about the times or results, it was about the work, lessons and adjustments that were happening behind the scenes were starting to take effect, a point emphasised by what I can only really describe as a breakthrough in race 9 at Winterberg in Germany.
Winterberg was the scene for much frustration before the Christmas break, with strong training runs being scuppered by bad luck on race day. This time however things were put right, I trained well and although my speeds were slower than in training I managed to, for the first time, put the basics down and drive well on a race day, the result wasn’t quite the medal that the training runs merited but a strong 4th place finish and finally something to cheer about! Finally something clicked, and we ended the season on a high,something that for the majority of the season looked like would never happen. The step back, had started to take effect…