Athletes filter in at times they have picked to the very hot and humid treatment room. We pack up our travel packs for an afternoon at the track. But first we have lunch..oh you lovely bread sitting there waiting for me… No issues from MAJOR consumption yesterday… Baked fresh this morning you say?… Lunch was lovely again and an hour long! I have not sat down and ate lunch that took more than 15 minutes in a very longtime. Mostly I eat lunch over a period of hours between patients so this was nice to sit down and relax and enjoy the company…Mental note, you like this, this slower pace at meals. Really it just gives you longer time to eat the bread:)…
Off to the track. 15 minute drive down to the track. We get to park near the top being med staff and carrying gear. I was excited to see all the countries and athletes that I have watched on Bobsled and Skeleton TV on you tube for the past few weeks. This training day is both men’s and women’s bobsled. This is where each country and team gets two runs down the piste (track in French). They work through a start list of all the countries and then repeat it again if the countries want a second run. We planned on being at the track for about 4 hours.
Driving down the mountain, the view’s were incredible! The sun was out and shining bright on the mountain on the other side of the valley. Once we got there I decided to go explore on the backside of the track. I am in my typical gear: Wool socks, boots, long underwear, lycra pants, snow pants, base layer undershirt, shirt, fleece jacket and then team jacket,scarf,mittens, hat and sunglasses. The nut roaster(aka seat warmers) proved to heat me up that I did not have hat and mittens on when we got out of the car. The team was not there quite yet so I walked to see what I could find view wise…Gasp…I have never been so speechless at the beauty and splendor of what God created and is in front of me…stop, take it in, breathe,WOW, this is real!.. My little break from reality is over and I have to go up to the track...Nature calls…
Rick had already taken the table in and had it set up. I walk in and it is TINY in the start house. It is typical for the host nation to have their own room and then the rest have to share what is available. We are holed up in a small corner with benches all around the room and some even in the middle of
the room. Each Nation stakes out a territory and then we work around each other. People are EVERYWHERE and bags and gear from athletes and med staff are being stepped over and stepped on because it is small. Great Brittan is near us as well as Germany in their bright yellow jackets with black pants. Russia is is a bight blue red and white trim. Those two stand out the most to me…Geez, I forgot to pee again, I just saw a girl come out of what I think is the bathroom… WOAH, hold your horses Karen, you just walked into the guys bathroom… Turn around, fast…Wait there is a chick? what is going on here?… I turn around and walk out, look at the bathroom door and as I look closer it is unisex…Well, When in Rome, do as the Romans do… French, Do as the French… back in you go and figure it out ’cause you have to pee… I walk back and one of the male athletes smiles at me and in broken English said ” I was confused too!”…Phew.. Not just me… When you walk in the bathroom, straight ahead is saloon style swinging doors with urinals for the guys, to the right is 4 stalls, two with guys on them next to the urinals and two with girls across from that. The sinks were to the left. No paper towel only hand dryers and no wastepaper baskets in the girls bathrooms. Very unique…Embrace the culture, and hand sanitizer…
Russian and German teams talking
Russian Athletes and sleds
This is my first live experience with bobsled on ice. I was in Lake Placid for push champs and the combine but the ice was not formed at the track before I had to leave. Again the girls have had a rough few weeks so we knew we had a lot of work to do. Rick and I immediately get started with athletes as they need our services. Since we only had one table, when one was working the other was triaging who is next and which provider do they need. Since I love people watching I am in my glory. I was able to watch other Physio (med staff usually athletic trainer or PT. Some massage therapist, and Canada had a Chiro) work on their athletes and just marvel at the similarities and the differences. The smell becomes to get very unique in the room. Time to go wander to see what is going on with sleds outside and to breathe some fresh air. I know what you readers are all thinking… I swear I am not creating ANY unique smell as the bread and dairy are sitting well with me. No GI issues for me!
Once outside, I wander through the sleds arranged by the start list order. The French federation has nice signs with each country listed and posted in the snow in the designated area. The athletes are busy like little bees. Richard Laubenstein is THE man when it comes to these sleds. He is a the master mechanic, Chief creative engineer and all around FABULOUS guy. Richard is the go to guy for any modifications, repairs, mechanical issues that you can think of. The coaches and Richard all have the secret service ear buds in so they look really professional and secretive. Richard worked for Penske racing for 22 years with their formula 1 race cars. He is a gear and gadget guy. I instantly liked Richard once we had a time to talk. Runners are getting changed out and sanded down. Athletes who are not racing today are pit crew and help with loading and unloading of the sleds. I, of course, am interested in the USA sleds but this is happening all around me with the other nations.
It is now time for the USA teams to hit the track for training. Tuffy Latour is there as well and I follow him out to the observation area of the start of the track. He is kind enough to explain some of the technical aspects of the sport for me. I am just fascinated with the size of the athletes and the different styles. Now this is just practice so some are running two man, some 4 person. The German coaches and staff are loud and very aggressive in their voices to get the athletes pumped up. Their is a lot of athletes warming up with running and skipping and stretching and seeing sports med. All the athletes have been with each other since end of December. Many are interacting with each other and talking with athletes from other countries. But, when it comes to the sleds, they are protective and will not give away trade secrets or anything advantage that they may have on another team.
Rick and I are in and out of the start house to care for athletes and warm up and go back outside to breathe some fresh air till we get cold again. We are done a bit earlier than anticipated and head back to the the hotel. Snow is coming we are told, like 3-4 feet of snow. Glad for the all wheel drive vehicle that Lenny made sure that we had. We are going to head back. Rest for an hour, check in with Meg who has been back at the hotel all day and then see some patients before dinner. Like lunch, I look forward to the hour and 20 that I have to sit and enjoy my dinner and dinner companions. I look forward a glass of wine, a delicious meal and amazing dessert or two if I can get someone to split it with me. We have patients for a few hours after dinner so this is my time to relax and enjoy. Tomorrow’s schedule will be the same but we anticipate skeleton having a training session.
So blessed to be part of this adventure!