Luger Megan Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., will provide insight and commentary in occasional blog posts for Boston.com throughout the Winter Olympics.
Probably one of the top 5 questions asked of a slider is ďWhatís the most dangerous part of your sport?Ē
Thatís a really, really hard question to answer because there are so many factors of luge that can be considered dangerous to someone who has never tried it.
To be quite honest, most injuries that occur on our team happen off the track. Itís during a soccer game where we all play like professionals minus the skills. Itís the extra 10 feet on a cliff that we climb before we jump off or the fact that I thinking going bungee jumping in the winter on my birthday is going to be FANTASTIC!
Iím convinced thereís a MAJOR lack of neurological firing when it comes to a fear factor because for some reason we push the edge in everything we do.
But there are two instances that Iíve become aware of that honestly, scare me to death. The first I noticed in Park City while walking up the track early one morning. It had just snowed and underneath that snow was black ice. I can understand slipping down the mountain, but up? It was the fear of the unknown that one wrong step and I could be flat on my face that freaked me out.
The second instance is also the fear of the unknown, and todayís training in Whistler made that apparent. No matter how many mind runs are completed, no matter how many ACTUAL runs I have on a track or how confident of a slider I am there is a moment at the start handles after the track is cleared where I surrender myself to the unknown.
This mainly applies to the first run on the track, but sometimes thereís a lack of mental stability where my fear creeps in and I just have to reiterate to myself that itís nothing new. But that first run, that first pull on the handles and the release where I can feel the sled speeding down the start ramp, all I think to myself is ďWell! Here we go! Thereís no turning back now!Ē
My Mom applies a lot of her business wisdom into our sports psychology/venting sessions and one trend that she keeps pushing upon me (and yes, Mom, I do actually listen!) is to ďKeep it simple, stupid.Ē So thatís what I have to break it down to. All Iím really doing is a form of glorified sledding; thereís nothing but the ice, my sled, and me. Thereís nothing special about that.
Iíve had more runs this year in Whistler than I took before my races in Calgary, Canada or Igls, Austria or Winterberg, Germany Ö so Iíve just got to break it down. Keep my head on straight, and know that my moment of despair has passed with two race-training runs down, four more to go, and then itís the big day!†