Sliding School, November 2015
To get started as a Skeleton athlete, these are typically the first three steps:
1) Attend a local combine where you do all sorts of athletic-type things that may or may not have anything to do with sliding at all.
2) Get invited to a five-day sliding school in Lake Placid, NY.
3) Survive said sliding school.
For those who don't know, sliding school is basically when you show up to Lake Placid, get handed ski goggles, a skydiving helmet, and a janky sled held together by duct tape, and then, without any more instruction than "Hold on and have fun!", are sent pinballing down a mile-long ice track at 60 miles per hour. All I can really remember from my first run are hitting that first wall, being unsure if I still had any skin left on my triceps, reaching for the brakes so I could stop and further examine this, and then realizing there were no brakes. By the end of the week, you typically come out looking like this:
If you're just the right amount of thrill-seeker, competitor, and masochist, you may very well find yourself back in Lake Placid as a full-time Skeleton athlete!
Following my successful combine, I was invited to attend the Fall 2015 sliding school. I approached all of my professors to see if they'd allow me to miss a week of class. As Professor Collins told me when I asked if I could skip a week of his Divorce Law class: "I can't say that anything we learn in class next week will prepare you better for this subject matter than sliding out of control down an icy hill with no brakes."
So off I went!
Sliding school is certainly one of the most traumatic, yet formative experiences anyone can have. Nothing had ever tested both my mental and physical toughness like those five days did, and each day left me feeling bruised, battered, and hugely accomplished.
From learning how to run again, this time bent over:
To hanging on to my sled for the longest 72 seconds of my life on my first run from the top of the track in Lake Placid:
Sliding school is and will continue to be one of the fondest memories of my Skeleton career.