Welcome to Europe Team Night Train…
Right now we are in Germany preparing for our second race on European soil. It’s always harder to compete over here than it is in the States and it’s not because of jetlag. One reason, a big reason, is that 3 of 5 races are on German tracks. There is no other sport (well, outside of the sliding sports bobsled, skeleton, and luge) in the world where the home team has such an advantage. No track in the world is the same, each one is completely different and the only way to figure out how to go fast is by practicing on each one.
Think about this for a second. Bobsledding is no different than any other sport. If you want to get better you have to practice, the more you practice the better you’ll get. If you want to be a better basketball player what do you do? You go out to the gym and practice shooting the basketball for a couple hours a day. After a week of that your shooting percentage is going to be much better than when you started, seems pretty straight forward.
Here’s the catch. I only get to practice bobsledding for just over 2 hours a year. How is that you ask? Well, each run down the track takes around a minute depending on which track you are at. Let’s make it simple and average it at 60 seconds per run. The World Cup Circuit rules only allow for 2 runs a day in practice, and 3 days of practice; 6 minutes total. There are 2 days of racing which adds another 4 minutes. So I get to practice bobsledding 10 minutes a week. After an 8 week circuit I’ll that’s a whopping hour and 20 minutes of practice before the Olympics. Throw in 4 weeks of training before the competitive season starts and it comes out to just over 2 hours. What would happen if the USA Basketball team practiced for only 2 hours before the Olympics?
So, back to what I was saying about home track advantage. I mentioned that no track in the world is the same, each one is completely different. I’m preparing to go down a bobsled track in Germany that the Germans have had hours of training on during this season alone….I have 6 minutes. It’s going to be a tough weekend.