My new home, the Whistler Athletes Centre, for visiting athletes. I fit nicely in my little 12x12 dorm room, the lodge is quiet, comfortable, and has a huge kitchen. I have created a nice little compound for myself, as 10 feet to the right is the Canadian Sports Institute where I work and train. All an athlete’s amenities!
This is my front yard…don’t worry, it hurts my eyes too!
I am working as a housekeeper, and frankly embarrassed to call myself an athlete. No amount of squats or euro fit can prepare you for constant & repetitive movements. In addition to chronic whiplash from sliding, I think I am developing shoulder tendonitis! After working in occupational rehab for years and now working in my client’s ‘shoes’, my appreciation for “manual labour” is greatly heightened, and I’m only working 4 hour shifts!
The High Performance Gym at the Canadian Sports Institute is a beautiful facility for elite athletes. Training here is great, all the athletes train during the day (except for us, who train at night), so I practically have this place to myself all day. As a work environment it is equally amazing, no steroid joe’s or trophy wives here. I actually get to meet and watch national team athletes train, including the likes of our Olympic medalist Adam van Koeverden. It is motivating to be surrounded by incredible & humble athletes doing what they love most everyday!
My resume now also includes sled mechanic. Sled maintenance is a labour of love, it’s like owning a gorgeous sports car and making sure it’s always running at 100%. However, in my case I am trying to make a Miata run like a Porsche.
Being reunited with my sled was like Christmas morning, however seeing my runners was like Santa pelting me with pieces of coal! I had left my sled in scabbards (think skate guard) for 8 weeks including a drive home from Calgary. When I took them off for the first time this is what I saw…
You should be able to see your reflection in it…
After 2 hours of 60 coarse sanding by hand, my thumbs fell off, I no longer have any identifiable fingerprints, but my runners are now at about 25% capacity.
I am back sliding in Whistler and loving it! After a week off of corner 3 I am proud to say I have graduated to the TOP! Tonight was the first time I ever slid off of the very top of Whistler! I’ve never been down the full track, so I didn’t know what to expect. I had my trusty brakeman Michael with me (we did driving school together last year, and beat each other up pretty good, so he’s pretty broken in to say the least)
Driving from the top is a whole new beast! Just when you think you figured it all out from corner 3, you drop vertically 2.5 stories out of corner 2! The top half of the track has never been faster, and although it was a bumpy ride through the middle, the bottom half was smoother and we finished shiny side down :)
Going back to my first post, “I don’t do drugs; I drive bobsleighs”, well I am now back on the best high of my life tonight and I cannot wait to do it all over again tomorrow. I’m sitting here 3 hours after training buzzing with adrenaline, still in my training gear, with the excitement of the brand new challenges that lay ahead!
Our tournament was in Havana and had an opportunity to drive through some of the neighbourhoods. It is a culture shock to see Cubans dressed in modern day fashions against this backdrop of architecture, infrastructure, and landscapes that have not changed since the 1950’s. Buildings do not get repaired, vendors have no signage, taxis seem to be run by a group of friends in unmarked cars, and the furnishings inside some homes is minimal. Speaking of minimal, there is no toilet paper anywhere, not even in the airport bathrooms. In the tourist areas you can pay a washroom attendant 5 pesos for a couple of sacred sheets of TP. As a tourist it was nice to experience Cuba outside of an all-inclusive resort, as we were exposed to a broader range of cultural experiences, landscapes and interactions with locals.
I found the best part of Cuba was our trip to a Juan Oscar Alvarado Miranda, a local orphanage that the Howlers sponsor. There were about 10 children between the ages of 4-6 and our team arrived bearing loads of toys, clothes, football cleats and monetary donations. We spent 2 hours playing with the kids in their courtyard and it was so grounding. They were shy at first but every one of the children found someone to connect with. The smiles on the children that day are ones that I won’t soon forget!
2012 Cuba Howlers with the staff and children at Juan Oscar Alvarado Miranda Orphanage
Photo credits to Judy Teasdale