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.