Winning big at home
I was very nervous going into Friday’s World Cup race in Park City, Utah, because Wednesday’s training had not gone well at all.
It was strange: I was feeling OK driving that day in training, but my times were really slow. I didn’t know what was going on and was so frustrated that my times weren’t reflecting how I was feeling. I tried to fix things and almost crashed twice, which is rare in Park City (it’s an easier track) and horrible for me considering I’d been driving so well this season.
I had a mini panic attack, which wasn’t helped when our second training run was canceled because of a problem with the ice on the track. So I went home kind of freaking out that I’d had such a bad day and only had one more day before the race.
Part of being a driver, though, is that we have mental ups and downs. Some days everything clicks and feels great, and other days we feel awful. The important thing is working through those bad days.
On Friday, we came down our first run of the race and I pushed fast: We were two-hundredths of a second off the track record, so I knew we were in a good spot. Then my Canadian rival Kaillie Humphries came down and beat us by a hundredth, and our U.S. teammates Jamie Greubel and Katie Eberling came down two sleds behind us and we knew it would be close.
Before the second run I was working really hard to calm myself down. I told Aja Evans, my brakeman (and roommate), that we’d just have to focus on being the best we could be and not focus on the others, and that’s what we did. I slide best when I’m happy, and we were both smiling and having a blast out there. When we came down the track I knew I’d put down a solid run and it was just a question of if it would be enough.
It was! This was my first World Cup win as a driver, and it was pretty awesome. There wasn’t much time to celebrate, though. By the time we took care of our sleds and did the awards ceremonies, we didn’t get into bed until 1 a.m. The next race was at 10 a.m. the next morning, so it meant being up at 6:30. Ouch.
That night, I was playing out this weird balance of being excited and really wanting to cherish the moment, while also knowing I needed to prepare for my next race. Let’s just say I didn’t get much sleep.
On Saturday it was snowing pretty hard, but we were 10th in the lineup, so nine sleds went before us, helping to plow the snow off the track. It was another amazing race. We won again, and to make it even better, the other two U.S. sleds tied for second, giving us a 1-2-2 podium sweep.
In fact, we performed so well it got the other countries questioning whether our sleds were legal. After I won the race, my sled was under inspection for an inordinate amount of time. Our team mechanics did such a great job with our sleds, though, and when all was said and done, they passed every test.
Any time you have that kind of performance other countries are going to question you, but you can’t ignore the fact that we have three great push crews. When you push that fast at the top of the hill, it’s tough to be beaten. I think that’s what stands out most with the U.S. team: We have the most athletic women’s bobsledders in the world right now, and that’s what’s going to help us get results!
It’s an understatement to say I’m feeling pretty psyched for the Sochi Olympics right now. The back-to-back races were a good prep for what we’ll have to do at the Games, and I showed that when the heat is on I could do what I need to do. It was a huge confidence booster, and I ended up with two gold medals!