Sunday, December 30, 2012

Unconditional Love

I believe that each individual loves in a different way and that how we love is learned from the people we are surrounded by.  I for one feel lucky that I have some of the most caring people as parents.  I have watched my mom over the years take her vow to my father ‘in sickness and in health’ very seriously.  As my father struggled with continual medical problems stemming from a fall off a ladder and broken leg my mother was with him every step of the way.  She was with him through the 11 successive surgeries and the many complications that followed.  I have watched her love with no restriction and without question take it upon herself to nurse him back to health just as I am sure my father did when she was recovering from breast cancer years ago.

I again experienced this kind of love recently with my grandmother.  We moved my maternal grandmother to Chico after my grandfather passed about seven years ago.  She was never fond of the idea of moving, but we finally convinced her it was in her best interest.  At the time my siblings and I were not incredibly close with her.   We only saw her on rare visits, but fortunately we were able to get to know her once she moved closer to us.  My mother and my grandmother had somewhat of a strained relationship, but my mother did what she could to care for her mother as best she knew, once again with no hesitation.  Recently, she would spend her days going over to her mother’s house to help her with daily activities like eating and showering. 

I remember my father and my grandmother struggled to agree with each other when I was growing up.  They attempted to bond over the small things they had in common like drinking their black coffee and having similar political views.  I know they may have had their issues, but it was touching to watch my father doing all he could to fight for my grandmother, in her final days, to have the best medical care possible.  He never once stopped to think about the times they may not have seen eye to eye but instead showed his love by fighting for her to get everything she needed. 

Sometimes people can make it hard for us to love them and sometimes it is hard to understand how people show their love.  Each individual is different.  As we continue to go through my grandmothers personal affects we are shown the ways she loved us.  She kept nearly every letter any of us had ever written her and spent the few extra dollars she had donating to the Olympic Committee in support of my dreams. 

As I get older and continue to learn about myself and the people around me I feel fortunate that I learned how to love from my parents.  I can only hope that when put in similar situations I am able to love as unconditionally as they have. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

College didn't teach me everything

Over the years I have used my Exercise Biology degree from the University of California, Davis in various unorthodox ways. I use it daily in my bobsled training to get bigger, faster and stronger. Or at least this is how I justify the investment to my parents.  There are, however, many times I wonder about all the things I did not learn in college.  Some times I look around and wonder what the heck I am doing and what in the world would have prepared me for my life now.  Most would think I am talking about sliding down and icy mountain at 80 plus miles per hour on a daily basis, but what I am really talking about is the before, after and everything in between.

The behind the scenes work for a bobsled brakeman is definitely not glamorous.  We are responsible for much of the sled work and for transporting the sled to and from the track each day of training.  Never did I think my life would consist of driving a manual sled truck in the snowy French Alps. Or did I think that learning how to put chains on would be imperative in transporting sleds in the bobsled world. I often wonder if the snow chain course was in the UCD course manual next to the tractor driving class I always meant to take but never got the chance too.

Fortunately, I have a father that required his girls to first pass the "Azevedo driving test" before we were able to actually get our drivers license. This test included being fully proficient in driving a stick shift vehicle up and down the windy 20 mile road to Paradise, California which has been incredibly useful.  The test, however failed to include the snow and every detail that is involved with it.  Being from California this was never something that I have had to be familiar with, but in bobsled it is something that I constantly deal with.  Over the last 7 years I have been forced to learn the ins and outs of driving in the snow, but still every now and again the California driver in me comes out and we have to push the truck out of a snow bank…. 

When I move on with my life and am done with bobsled I am confident that I will be able to accomplish any thing life throws at me.  I have learned that it may be scary at first, but with practice and the willingness to learn anything is possible.  Heck, I may even be able to teach the snow chain 101 course at UCD. 
Believe it or not this was actually not my doing!  At least we all know how to push!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

You're only cheating yourself..

Recently there have been a number of international bobsled athletes testing positive for banned substances.  It is hard to ever envision how one can convince themselves that taking a performance enhancing drug is first physically safe and second fair to the rest of their competition that chooses to compete clean.  I guess the lure of competing at the Olympic Games somehow allows athletes to forget personal morals and to cheat.  I have heard the argument before that athletes feel that in certain sports all athletes use performance enhancing drugs and it is a matter of who has the better drugs.  To me, I don’t believe this to be a valid argument, but instead an excuse and an attempt to justify cheating.

A friend of mine once did a survey where she asked people would you rather win and Olympic gold medal on drugs knowing you would never be caught or have a million dollars given to you?  Surprisingly most people answered they would rather win a gold medal.  It was shocking the lengths that people were willing to go for an Olympic medal.  To me, an Olympic experience or even an Olympic medal is not worth living my life knowing that I have played unfairly or have cheated.  I want to win knowing that I did it 100 percent out of blood, sweat and tears.  Even if that day does not end up happening for me I know that I am going to leave this sport with my morals in tact. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stop and smell the roses

As an athlete I am constantly striving for more.  I always want to run faster or to lift heavier so that I am able to perform at the highest possible level.  I think that is what pushes me to be great, but can also be considered one of my greatest downfalls.  It is important as an athlete to not only push yourself, but also equally important to appreciate each and every road block and the gains made along the way. This is something that is easy for me to say to other athletes, but a lot harder for me to put in practice. 

When I first started sliding I remember feeling very insecure about how weak and small I was compared to the other athletes.  I remember being in Germany and having to share a squat rack with the Canadian women and being mortified when I had to ask them to take off  weight so that I could work in with them.  I had always considered myself a pretty decent athlete.  I had a successful college track and field career, but this sport was a whole new beast for me.  I went home after that day in the weight room and I cried my eyes out. I felt so inadequate and knew that I had a long road in front of me if I was going to have a chance of becoming an Olympian.  I vowed that day that I would never feel that way in the weight room again.  I guess I have not really stopped to appreciate those days back in 2007 when I was a quiet, scared, 23 year old girl taking on what felt like an intangible dream.  I have come a long way since those days.  I am now known more for my strength and have transformed my body to a more ideal shape for a bobsled push athlete.  Of course our sport is constantly evolving and growing and I am always pushing myself to be the best I am capable of, but as I mature as an athlete and a person I am learning to reflect on the path that has gotten me to this point.  It is a path full of bumps, bruises, tears and a whole hell of a lot of hard work, but one that I would never change.   

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Competition Produces Excellence

I am the second of four girls.  My older sister, Amber, is only thirteen months older then me, so course we were very competitive growing up.  I remember always trying to out do her and live up to all of her accomplishments.  Amber, who is now well sought after high school teacher, is very intelligent and one of the more naturally gifted athletes I have known.  In high school she received high grades and was a stand out athlete, which was often hard for me to live up to.  At the time I didn’t really know it, but reflecting back I realize that she is a major reason I am the athlete I am in today.  I was often discouraged when we were younger and we would race in our backyard.  This was tradition started by my Grandmother when every Christmas my cousins and I would try and beat her in a foot race for a prize!

Luckily I was able to beat my Grandmother, but I am not sure if I was ever able to beat my sister.  This was something very small that continued to push me.  I worked very hard to keep up with her athletic gift.  The work ethic I learned helped me be successful in high school and college athletics and is something I still carry with me in the Bobsled world.  I believe that with hard work anything can be possible… I think it may be time to challenge my sister to a race again!  

Monday, October 22, 2012

An athletes financial woes

The life of an elite athlete is not always as glamorous as it sounds.  It is a life of financial struggle and sacrifice.  I have been very fortunate in the past years to have the support of Amory and In The Arena as well as the support of the Olympic Committee through training center housing.  Not all Olympic athletes are lucky enough to have this kind of support and have to do whatever it takes to find the funding to take their training to the next level.

A friend of mine, Liz, an all around awesome person and incredible discus thrower just recently moved to Portland to work with a high level discus coach.  She placed an honorable 5th at the Olympic Trials and now is making this move to intensify her training and make a solid push for Rio 2016.  On top of a costly move Liz also needs to pay for her housing, food, training and recovery tools.  One would think that being ranked 5th in the nation would warrant some kind of financial support, but unfortunately she is still stuck right outside of the money. 

It is incredible to me that most Olympians and Olympic hopefuls live below the poverty line and have to almost beg friends and family to help fund a dream.  Many athletes like Liz look for odd jobs like paper routes, flower delivering and late night shelf stocking that fit in with training and recovery.  It is essentially like trying to be successful at two full time jobs, which is virtually impossible.  This is the major divider of Olympic and professional sports.  One is the pure pursuit of a dream and the other is a paycheck facilitating a dream. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back to Work

The leaves are started to change and the weather is beginning to get chilly.  To me this can be related to one thing; the start of bobsled season.  It is always hard to believe that the summer is already gone and we are back in Lake Placid getting ready for another year.  Each year seems to fly by faster then the one before.  Every year that I spend in Colorado the harder it is for me to leave.  I have grown to love Colorado along with the incredible staff at the Olympic Training Center.  It feels that as soon as I finally get use to being in one place for longer than a few weeks it is already time to get on the road and get back to work.  As I said my goodbyes on Friday one of the kitchen staff handed me a sack lunch to bring on the plane with all of my favorite items.  Those are the little things that make me love the family I have gained in Colorado.

I am just as sad to go as I am excited to get the season off and running.  I love the off season training, but it can sometimes be boring not being able to actually get on ice every week and do our sport.  We use the off season to make as many gains physically on the running track and in the weight room that we can.  It is nice when we finally get to hit the ice and show off everything we have gained throughout the summer. 

The season starts with a number of sprint and lifting test along with a single push on the dry land push track to rank each brakeman.  After that is complete we begin to slide on ice and eventually have two team selection races.  All of these tests will be evaluated and the National Team is named.  It can be an intense process, but is a necessary evil to find the best athletes to represent the U.S.A on the World Cup circuit.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

After spending the past summer in Colorado Springs training to get bigger, stronger and faster I am finally able to get a chance to perfect my on ice push technique.  I am spending this week in Calgary pushing in an indoor ice house that simulates the start of a bobsled track.  In an hour of time you can push three to four times the amount that you would get in a day of sliding.  It is very beneficial to our training to be able to work on different aspects of our push without having to put our bodies through a run down the bobsled track.  I really enjoy being in Calgary pushing and I always improve while pushing here.  Unfortunately, it is very expensive for us to utilize the ice house and we can spend up to 275 dollars per hour to push in the ice house along with the additional cost of training, room and board.  Luckily my former teammate has allowed me to stay in his spare bedroom to ease my cost and make my training trip possible.  I am excited about my progress and I am looking forward to the start of the season here in a couple of weeks.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Girls RULE!

Women have come a long way in the Olympic Games since their debut in Paris in 1900.  The 2012 Olympic Games was what seemed to be a coming out party for female athletes.  This was the first Olympic Games women were represented from every country participating and prior to these games three nations had never sent female athletes to an Olympics.  It is great to see the growth of female sports not only in our nation, but internationally as well.  For these women representing nations that had never sent female athletes to an Olympic Games the outcome was not nearly as important as breaking through and being able to represent their country.  These women have paved the way for other female athletes from their countries in the future. 

Because of women in the past breaking through in our own country United States female athletes out numbered and out preformed their male counterparts.  Had the women of the 2012 United States Olympic Team been considered their own nation only China would have racked up more Olympic gold medals and of the 46 gold medals won by the United States 29 of them will be brought home by female athletes.  Well done ladies!  As a female athlete it is hard to not be proud of what these women have accomplished.  My hope is that the women of the 2012 Olympics will continue to be role models for young aspiring female athletes and help to expand the growth of women’s sports in
our nations. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Opening Ceremony

Emily and Kristi Yamaguchi
As a young girl I intensely watched every Olympic Games.  I remember watching the likes of Kristi Yamaguchi and Bonnie Blair in the winter games and of course the Magnificent Seven gymnast in the Atlanta summer games.  These women inspired my sister and I.  We would skate around in our socks on the hard wood floor and would complete our ‘triple axels’ and our ‘double loops.’  We created beam routines and attempted to emulate different skills each of the gymnasts completed.  Those two weeks every two years were some of the most inspiring for me as a young child. 

Emily and Bonnie Blair
I was a gymnast growing up and every year my gym would have an Olympic Festival where we would get the opportunity to walk in our own Opening Ceremony.  Each group was given a different nations flag.  We created our Olympic garb and represented our select countries as we followed our flag into the gym.  I remember always being somewhat disappointed that my group was never selected to carry the American flag, but was always excited to recreate our version of the Olympics.  Little did I know that close to a decade later I would finally have the opportunity to follow our flag in an actual Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.  As I watched the athletes walk on Friday in the London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony I could not help but remember all the emotions I felt over two years ago in Vancouver. 

Emily at the Vancouver Opening Ceremony
I often get asked what the experience was like and to be honest there are really no words to describe it.  The Olympic movement is something greater than the individuals involved and for me that was the first time I realized that I was a part of something bigger than me.  As I laid in bed after that night I tried to decompress from the excitement, but all that went through my head was ‘that was so worth it.’  Everything that happened up to that point for me was part of my path to the Olympic Games.  None of it was easy, but making an Olympic Team should not be easy.  That was the moment I decided that after Vancouver I would try to fight to earn one more chance to have that same experience

Over the next couple weeks I will be glued to the television watching these Olympic Games just like I did as a child.  Maybe I won’t skate around or complete any gymnastic moves, but I will watch and continue to be inspired by all the athletes fulfilling their dreams to compete in the Olympic Games.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thank You Fire Fighters!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Colorado OTC comes to the rescue

The Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado has been home to hundreds of athletes since its opening in 1978. In 1996 the city of Colorado Springs helped the Olympic Committee reposition to a location that was previously an Air Force Base.  The facility now provides housing and dining to over 500 athletes’, coaches and this week fire evacuees. Colorado Springs has been my off season home for the past 5 summers.  After arriving in 2008 I was overwhelmed by the generosity of not only the staff at the Olympic Training Center, but by the excitement of Olympic sports throughout the entire community.

This past week was a horrible one for the city and state I have grown to love.  We heard news of the Waldo Canyon fires this past weekend, but had no idea the devastation that was to come.  Throughout the next few days it seemed the city was living the worst case scenario.  Many people were and still are evacuated from their homes, and an estimated 346 homes have been destroyed by the blaze.  Fortunately, I have not been directly affected by the fire, expect for the smoke and haze that has been hovering in the Colorado Springs area.  I do, however, feel sadness for all the people, many of which I know who have lost homes and possessions.  I sit here at a loss.  I wish there was more I could do to help all those in Colorado Springs who have supported the Olympic movement and the Olympic Training Center. 

Conversely, I feel a sense of pride as I watch the Olympic Committee come to the rescue and house many of the families affected by the flames.  It amazed me that our Winter Sports High Performance Director had been evacuated out of his home, but was still at the Training Center making sure that all the athletes had masks to protect us from the air quality.  I was astounded by his level of commitment to make sure we were not only safe, but also able to train at a high level throughout the chaos.  For the most part, the Training Center’s mission statement has, for a brief time, shifted to helping the people of the community and employees of the Olympic Committee stay safe.  I am hoping the London Olympic Games, which are just around the corner will help to boost the spirits of the people in Colorado Springs as they begin to rebuild their lives.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Where's the line?

In the world of Olympic sports the difference between winning a medal and not winning a medal can often be measured in hundredths. There is a very fine line between the top level athletes and what's considered the lower tier of athletes. It is hard to decide what sacrifices are worth it and what is too much to sacrifice. This is something I constantly struggle with. For me to be the best in my sport I have to make tough choices that often leave me missing bridal showers, weddings, graduation, and sometimes even Thanksgiving and Christmas. I do understand that it is important to have a balanced life to be successful in other aspects of life, but for now I have to miss time with family and friends so that I can train at the top level daily. I recently heard a commercial referring to Olympic athletes having part time employers and friends that are willing to be part time friends. In many cases this is very true. We have to put our bodies needs ahead of spending time with friends and family. I am very lucky that for the most part my friends understand that sometimes I may just be a part time friend.

This past weekend my sisters and I cashed in on our Christmas present from our parents which was a sister vacation. We chose to go to the Sonoma\Napa area. None of us have really experienced wine tasting and thought this was good opportunity with our baby sister, Geneva, recently turning 21. It is often hard to fully enjoy myself on trips like this as I am now in the thick of my off season training. I am usually caught in the middle of trying to relax and obsessing about what I am doing an how it will affect my next training session. For the most part when I am with my family they are very supportive and understanding of my selfish ways when it comes to training. I am thankful for that but wonder if these days in Napa will affect my training further down the road or if I need to learn to let go? I have yet to learn where the line is. I want to enjoy my life, my family and friends, but I also want to be the best in my sport. I am constantly trying to figure out how to have both. For now, I am going to enjoy the time with my sisters and hope that a little relaxation time will help me with my goals.

My sisters and I wine tasting in Sonoma, California

Sunday, June 3, 2012

It is good to be old...

The past six years of my life I have spent training over thirty hours per week.  The first few months of off season training are the worst because this is when I do high volume and conditioning.  It is important to do this phase of training because this is the conditioning base that will help me maintain my physical condition throughout the season.  As I have gotten older it isn’t as important to do as much volume training instead, it is essential to train less, but maintain a high level of intensity. 

Recovery becomes imperative as I get older.  This includes spending time in the hot tub, cold tub, sauna and receiving deep tissue massages weekly.  It sounds like an easy life, but believe it or not these treatments are necessary for an older athlete, like me to be able to train at the top level daily.   It is defiantly a perk to not have to put in as many hours of training as I use to, but with age comes a lot more aches and pains.  I have forced my body frame to maintain about twenty pounds of extra weight throughout the past six years.  This weight along with the intense weight training has caused my joints to ache.  So, with age comes increased joint pain, but also less volume of training and more massages!  I guess you can not have it all.   

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Congratulations Athletes

The feeling this year at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, where I live and train, is very different than in years past.  This Olympic Training Center is occupied mostly by summer Olympic hopefuls and past summer Olympians.  Many of the athletes are going through their Olympic trial process or have already completed the process.  Some have earned their bid on the 2012 Olympic team and most have not.  It is said that for every one athlete that makes an Olympic team, ten athletes do not.  So while some athletes here are excited and celebrating current success their teammates which often times are their roommates are mourning the realization of a dream unfulfilled. 

It is a lifelong dream for all the athletes at the training center to compete at an Olympic games.  Most athletes have pushed their bodies to the limit daily in hopes that one day they will represent our country on the biggest athletic stage.  A majority of these athletes will never earn that chance and often times we do not take the time to appreciate the effort put into not making the Olympic team.  To me, it is important to remember that making an Olympic Team does not change the person you are.  Our accomplishments do not define our character, our values or how hard we have worked to try and complete our goals.  Each athlete is the same person with or without an Olympic experience.  Just because an Olympic spot was not earned by an athlete, does not mean they put any less effort toward their goals than the athletes that did.  With that said, congratulations to all the athletes who have earned a spot on the 2012 Olympic Team and congratulations to all the athletes who have not!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

oh the pain...

I have been bobsledder for six years now, yet it still surprises me how sore I am every year when training starts again.  Monday starts off with conditioning in the morning followed by a lifting session in the afternoon that includes more squats then I will ever do once I am retired.  Tuesday is more of an active recovery day followed by Wednesday, which is by far my least favorite day.  Wednesday’s lift is incredibly tough and includes deadlifts, hang pulls, RDLs and pull ups.  This last week it took us close to three hours to complete this workout.  By Thursday my body hurts in every possible place and it feels like there is no way I can function let alone complete another workout.  Somehow I find a way to convince my body to move through the day and complete more conditioning and lifting.  This goes on for the rest of the week until Sunday when I get the day off.  It is amazing to me how powerful the mind can be and of course the Aleve my parents sent me helps too! Every morning I wake up and remind myself why I punish my body the way I do.  My desire to be the best in the World pushes me through each workout and helps me to not only work hard but to complete every workout with intensity.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


This past week we had a watermelon eating contest at the Boys and Girls Club.  Everyone was added into a drawing and were selected by age group to compete in the watermelon eating contest.  There were four different age groups, but unfortunately there was not a 20-30 age group so instead of participating I led the kids in cheering on each of their age groups. After the contestants were chosen they each were given close to a quarter of a watermelon to complete.  Once the whistle was blown and the contestants began to gobble up their watermelon the entire club was overwhelmed by cheers and screams by the audience.  The participants each had a different technique to try and complete the watermelon the quickest. 

In the end the older age groups came out as the winners.  The contest had been over for close to ten minutes when I looked in the corner and a little boy in the 6-8 age group was still working on his watermelon.  I watched as one of the teachers let the little boy know that the watermelon eating contest was done and that he didn’t have to finish the watermelon. He continued to press forward and was going to finish that watermelon no matter how long it took him to complete it.  After another ten minutes passed he finally finished the watermelon and held it proudly over his head!  He looked incredibly proud.  He had done it.  Sometimes it is not always about being in first place, but instead being determined enough to finish. 
getting ready to dive in!
The winners!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


I remember in high school it was not very cool to be a female jock.  I struggled with wanting to be apart of the popular crowd, but identifying with the athletes.  For the males the popular crowd and the jocks were one in the same, but this was completely different for the females and decreased the amount of females to participate in sports.  My senior year I was one of two seniors on the track team mostly because it was not popular to spend time competing in sports.  I have always been very competitive and passionate about sports, so it was no surprise that in high school that I wanted to pursue college athletics. I knew I had to get stronger and faster in order for me to be competitive at the college level.  For this reason I decided to train at Chico State with a group of high school athletes in a program called SportFit.  SportFit was my first experience with Olympic lifting and really helped me transition from high school athlete to college athlete.    

I was incredibly excited to be able to come back to Chico and work with the athletes at SportFit.   I was even more excited to see more than a handful of female athletes in the gym working hard to get stronger and more explosive.  This is such a positive change from when I participated in SportFit and was the only female athlete.  I learned an incredible amount from Steve Henderson and his crew at SportFit and I was able to put my college degree and my National Strength and Conditioning Certification to use.  I hope when I am back in Chico again I can continue to work with the athletes at Sportfit.  I enjoyed working with all the athletes but I was mostly pleased to see the increase of interest from female athletes.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Happy Birthday Amber!

Amber and Emily on Amber's 3rd Birthday
Happy 30th Birthday to my older sister Amber!  Amber and I are only 13 months apart in age.  I have always felt lucky to be so close in age with my sister and to have a built in best friend.  Amber and I were constantly mistaken for twins when we were kids.  It is probably more because of the ridiculous short, permed haircut our mother gave us both then the fact we actually looked a like.   I am sure many people also thought that no parents in their right minds would have two children so close in age on purpose!  Of course like any sisters we have had our fair share of arguments and hair pulling fights, but she has always looked after me. 

I remember after my first season of bobsled I came home and had 12 cents in my bank account.  My sister knew I was struggling and would randomly, on her own, add money into my account to help me survive.  I have always been proud of my older sister and I hope that if some day I have children they will have a relationship with their siblings like I have had with mine.
Christmas 1983


Flower Girls 1985
Amber's wedding June 2011

Sunday, March 11, 2012

2011-2012 Bobsled Season

Bree and Emily in the Susan G Komen Boobsled

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It is not often that my family is able to come to a bobsled race. Some of it is the timing of the events, but mostly it is the location. It is not often that we have bobsled competitions in the states let alone close to California. This year we were fortunate enough to have a home World Championships in Lake Placid, New York. It is very different having a World Championships in the states versus Europe mostly because Americans are not well versed in Bobsled, so therefore it is difficult to draw fans. I was able to draw a few fans of my own including my parents, sister, my aunt, uncle and cousins. Regardless of the outcome of the race it was nice to look around and see people who supported me and were excited to experience my world. I rarely get a chance to see my extended family, so I really enjoyed being able to share a big part of my life with them.

Now that another season is complete I am looking forward to spending some time relaxing and getting back to my ITA work. Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout the years.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Elana Meyers and Emily 5th place in Germany

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Whistler, British Columbia is one of my favorite stops on the World Cup circuit. Whistler is a track that many pilots and brakemen fear because of the high speeds reached and the technical aspect of the track. I had the opportunity in 2008 to come here with driver, Shauna Rohbock to test the track right after it was built. We were the first Americans to experience the 2010 Olympic track. We heard stories of how this track was going to be faster than any track in the world. It did not disappoint and completely lived up to all the expectations. It was an amazing once in a life time experience, but I still remember how nervous everyone was those few days we had of sliding. The pilots were trying to figure out what lines would be the best to make it down the course and the brakemen were hanging on trusting their pilots every move.

The following year Whistler hosted a World cup and in 2010 the Olympic Games. Throughout those events the start house was completely silent. Everyone was 100 percent focused and clearly nervous for each and every run. It is interesting to come back here two years later and feel the shift of emotion and nerves. Yesterday, we were at the top of the track joking around and laughing. It is a completely different environment then it has been in years past. It will be exciting to see what new adventures the Sochi track will bring. I am sure we will be just as nervous our first runs down the 2014 Olympic track.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Berg

Altenberg, Germany is home of one of the most technical difficult tracks in the world and arguable one of the most dangerous. Last week, we made our first stop of the second half in Altenberg. On the last day of World Cup training we were quickly reminded that there are incredible risks to what we do. Canadian pilot Chris Spring has been enjoying a break out season and was like all of us ready to conquer ‘the berg.’ The Canadian Federation was prepared to send their athletes, including Chris, to Altenberg for some extra training this fall, but prior to departing the German Federation decided that the extra trips on this difficult track would not be possible.

Unfortunately, Team Spring crashed in corner 16 and were then shot through the wooden lip of the track. These lips are created to push the sleds down and keep them from flying out of the track. Many very experienced pilots have had the same difficulty in this corner, but the lip prevented the accident from being more severe and allowed them to all walk away. This crash was horrific mostly because the lip did not do what it is designed to causing incredible damage to the sled and athletes. Fortunately, Chris and his crew of Tim Randall, Bill Thomas, and Graham Rinholm are all in stable condition, but suffered very serious injuries from the impact and debris.

After this accident, I was shocked to hear that we were still racing the very next day. In my opinion the track should have been deemed unsafe because the wood on the lips had clearly rotted. Had someone else crashed and hit the lip in any of the corners the same result could have happened. There are many things that could have prevented this accident from being as horrific as it was and I am hoping that this crash will help to change how the European tracks run. Good luck with your recovery Team Spring and we are all looking forward to seeing you back on the ice soon.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

This year I spent my New Years Eve at the Frankfurt, Germany hotel airport trying to stay awake after a long day of flying. We occupied our sleep deprived bodies by playing mindless card games and successfully made it to midnight for the infamous New Years count down. It probably was not the most exciting New Years I have ever had, but it was fun to reflect back on all the things we overcame and experienced in 2011. The year 2011 started off with Bree being rushed to the hospital to remove her appendix and ultimately fighting through all the health issues to finish off the season. After the season I had surgery to repair the labrum in my hip and have been fortunate enough to work my way physically back. The year of 2011 has had its ups and downs and I am looking forward to what 2012 has to offer and what the rest of the season brings us.