EN: It’s normal thing to capsize


The previous report from Sigulda was written in definitely grim mood. It has been finished in open manner, without a clear ending or moral. It left a lot of room for speculation 'how this skeleton will end for me’. This was my general vision, to present an emotion just in place, where and when they happens. Skeleton is an extreme sport, where psycho is as important factor as physical training, equipment etc. The main goal of luge.pl portal is to present sliding sport from the backstage. From the place where media usually don’t look into.

So to keep everything within the timeline let’s go back to the previous report, in case that You have missed it.

I am after few more training days, after few training session on the track. How does the current score looks like?

In the competition Me versus Sigulda Artificial Ice Track we have fair draw 0:0

I have been beaten, but only by my own physical durability which seems to be not as good as I though it is. Currently I feel strong pain in my legs (especially calf triceps muscle), bruised arms and ribs and overall tiredness. O lost two more kilos and weight. From today I will have few rest days from track sessions and gym training

Six days of sliding, eight days of motor and strength training on the gym including two days on push – track. That is what I call sport camp 🙂

I’m not sure but I think that this might be the first time I take so intense physical effort for so long time. Of course this is caused by my childhood and early adult when I wasn’t doing any sport at all. I have started paragliding in 2011, but this isn’t the same as paragliding doesn’t demand so much of physical durability. In case of skeleton the difference between me and the root of the national team is clearly visible, not only because there are 10 years younger than me 🙂

As You see on the GPS track below 27km long hike through mountains is no problem for me. But with that small, tiny difference that after that 27km with a rucksack I kept social distance in my apartment for two days. And no, not because the coronavirus 🙂

So now I’m dreaming about some Welness and massage done by 20…25 year girl 😀

But how’s sliding?

I must admit that better than before. Of course don’t get wrong impression. This is Sigulda, a place which shows the correct place for all arrogant and greedy sliders having overrated impression about own skill. I still start from Junior Start, of course not without 'minor adventures’. For instance let’s focus on second run from Friday, December 11th

A long straight before 15th curve. The main place of all my adventures

It was supposed to be a perfect run. At least it was before the exit from 15th. After the 14th I gracefully came towards the left of the track, without skidding or bumping from the left or right side. I’ve entered on the 15th early, so as I should. I applied some steering using left shoulder. Oh! I see the orange banner „SIGULDA” below me (it means that I’m on about half of the curve) I released the left shoulder and applied a little bit of the right one to keep the sled on certain level and prevent driving to much towards the bottom of the curve. When I though that I see the exit I applied left shoulder once again and… badum thss.. And I’m sliding on my back with the sled pressing on me in runners-up orientation. Classic late exit from 15th curve.

I have stopped just before the Kreizel, the last 16th curve. The timing equipment measured 80.3 kilometers per hour at the speed trap between 15th. Not very fast but also definitely not slow 🙂 I stood up, shook my speed suit of from the ice particles, got out from the track with that feeling: „Ah, it is not as bad as I though after the first time 😉 „ Of course I was 30 km/h slower than standard cruising speed from the top, but everybody had to start from something – including crashes 😀

Miejsce brawurowej akcji z jazdą na plecach widoczne z perspektywy startu męskiego

In my last blog note I have expressed a lot of my emotions, with an emphasis on the first capsize. Beside the second capsize one more thing happened which was expected from the very beginning of the training camp. After few days of track sessions my psyche started to work in much organized and routinely manner. Of course I still feel the stress before each run but this stress is focused on certain element of the run. This isn’t like „Oh my god I will EOL myself” but definitely rather „I must do this or that”, but previous 'adventures’ (mostly severely shaked head) reminds me what will happen if I won’t take enough caution. As I have written

(…) This is an individual point of view of each athlete, which not everybody express but for me that speed and emotions are only 50% of awesomeness of sliding. The rest of this factor comes from this damn satisfying moment when You cross the finish line, come from the track to the finish house with that feeling that You don’t fight only with the track, but with Yourself. Even after all that capsizes, crashes, bruised skin, shook head and injures You’re not listen to that common sense which is telling you constantly to end with the sport and live the 'casual, dull life’. You come back to the start, wait in the queue and try one more time. This is really a sport for somewhat crazy people.

A piece of my discussion on Facebook Group „Luge in Krynica Zdroj, the home of this sport in Poland” (original Polish title: „Saneczkarstwo w Krynicy Zdroju kolebce tego sportu w Polsce” )

But sometimes everybody of us got a gift. Mine came along December 12th. For the first time from the start of the training camp I had an almost correct run with the good exit from the 15th curve. Good exit means without a capsize and without a big bump from the right or left side of the straight after the curve (only with a slightly touch 😀 ). I didn’t beat my record (I had 83km/h few days before), but the finish time was definitely the best one.

I have synchronized steering the sled with my position on the curve. I clearly saw the exit from that 15th and in exactly right moment I steered the sled with exact force. What it’s more important one curve before I felt an affect of too late entry which banged me a little bit to high on the 14th. I connected a reason with a result. Sliding on the skeleton sled is somewhat similar with free flying on a paraglider. On a skeleton sled You don’t have as good view towards the run direction as You might expect. You need to feel where You are and what Your sled is doing mostly by sensing the forces which acts on Your body. This is in some extend similar to a paraglider. A pilot can’t look constantly on theirs wing. They need to observe surroundings and keep the safe separation from another traffic, other paragliders etc. If the pilot is still flying (and not falling) it means that the wing is doing fine about 7..8 meters above. A turbulence passes a lot of information about the air, thermals and other lifts. The pilot shall feel this from the forces or rumbling their feel on the harness, control lines etc.

Bottom surface of a paraglider wing seen from the pilot perspective during the flight

At the end of this story I need to admin that I had problems not only with my body but also with my sled.

The progress I have done has one more source, proper adjustment of my sled and accommodating it to my quite uncommon dimension (about 195 cm height – 6 feet 5 inches).

The first thing is the bow, the amount of bend applied to runners by squeezing them using fixing screws (one per runner). There is no ready recipe or an equation to calculate how many millimeters above the 'idle’ position the runners bow should be set on. It depends from one sled manufacturer to the another. It greatly depends on sliding skill. For my sled and a beginner like me runners shall be kept almost flat, the bow measured at the center support post shall be about +7mm up to +9mm. In other words a distance between the groove machined on the bottom side of the runner and the center support / mounting post shall be not more than 9 mm that the distance when the set screw is fully undone.

The general principle is that the more runners are bowed the faster but less stable the sled started to be. In my case I forgot or just didn’t come with an idea to call the sled manufacturer and ask how he advice to set the runners. Because of that runners was set to +13 millimeters. Which probably would be fine for a World Cup athlete like Dukurs brothers but not for me. This was corrected when everybody including Olga Lapšova, the track dispatcher, claimed that it must be something really wrong with my sled

The next thing is the saddle which was finally set to fit with my body. I have lost more than 15 kilograms, I’m tall but very slim. Because my sled has a little bit uncommon construction which has very broad range of adjustments it has been adjusted to the length of my arms, height etc. This increase my sliding comfort and steering capabilities.

Unfortunately regulations weren’t my main problem, not event the minor one. After the first run in Wednesday, December 9th I saw that the left saddle is loose. After I came back to the junior start I have realized that the bolt is completely undone. The UK crew helped me and give me theirs Allen wrenches to fix that problem but the bolt wasn’t cooperating with me.

With a lot of disappointment I saw that the screw is completely damaged as shown on the photo below 🙁 A thread is EOLed, forcefully 'eaten’ from first four turns 🙁 I was shocked and seriously worried when driving back to the hotel. I wasn’t sure if this was only the bold or the thread in saddle mounting support is also destroyed. The second thing will require severe machining to fix and could even exclude me from track sessions until the end of the camp.

Thankfully the female side of this joint is OK. The thread in the saddle mounting post is a little bit more loose on the left than on the right but generally a spare bolt fitted fine (as the picture also show for quite short time). After the post-mortem analysis and the consultation with the sled manufacturer this may be caused by the too short screw (M6 x 50). Because the thread gets into the sled for only few turns it firstly get unscrewed due to vibration and forces acting during the run, and finally the thread is brutally torn from the bolt, when only these last turn are connected.

The another thing is that I bough the equipment as used, so some worn is to be expected. Maybe the previous slider which were using this sled used to much torque when fastening the screw and slightly damage something.

Of course I’m not blaming either the sled manufacturer, or my coach or somebody else. As I said I bought the sled used. Such things happened sometimes in skeleton either with new or used equipment. The skeleton sled is fat more complicated mechanically the luge one. It consist few dozens of individual parts which needs to be regularly inspected.

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