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Athlete Blog: Meaghan Simister

Well, this is my first blog of the year, and I am pleased to say my training this Olympic season has been going well. I had a great summer in the gym, and I feel like I am the strongest and most prepared for racing as ever. Not only did I reach many personal athletic goals this summer, (I finally reached the 90kg bench press/power clean club!) As well, I also feel mentally focused and genuinely positive for the World Cup season that is now rapidly approaching. This summer was a very special one for me, as both Mercuria, and Pembina Pipeline have generously partnered with me this year to become my personal corporate sponsors. I believe that this is a huge step not only for my sporting career, but also for the ongoing promotion of luge in Canada. I plan to make everyone supporting this exciting sport proud!

Alright, now for what is going on in my own world of luge as of today. I am now home in Calgary after a ten hour van ride and an intense week of training at the amazing Olympic track in Whistler. Four weeks into the sliding season, I finally feel as though I am getting into my groove&gone are the intense summer weightlifting sessions trying to be strong like bull, as my coach Wolfgang Staudinger would say, but my major goal as always with sliding is to let my muscles relax, and turn my self into a blob every time I take a curve. This skill is crucial to success in order to achieve a push of speed from every corner. While I know my natural expertise comes at the start, (I have already unofficially broken the international start record that was set at the Whistler World Cup last February three times this season), I am trying my hardest to convert my tightly wound elasticized muscles into loose spaghetti strings, so I can absorb each curve with the utmost efficiency and glide. The track here in Calgary is the best place to work on this skill, so I am very excited to test some new equipment, and to slide, slide, slide!

Interestingly enough, when the National Biathlon team put on a joint training camp with our team at the Canmore Nordic Center earlier this year, I could find quite a few fascinating similarities in our seemingly totally different sports. The biathletes master the art of relaxation; slowing their heart-rates down as they must quickly shoot 5 targets, after they have skied several gruelling kilometres. I too, must master this same relaxation skill. However, I have to be full-throttle, and amped up at the start. It is a full out, no holds-barred sprint for thousandths of a second. But of course, once I settle into my sled, grab my handles, and make the first drive into the start corner, I must slow my self down, relax my legs and shoulders, and tell myself to just&breathe.

With the final team selection race held last week in Whistler I thought I made some huge steps in the area of relaxation, even though I did cause some (minor) drama for myself up at the start! You see, after the second run of our three run race, I sent my sliding bag down on the truck so I could get changed out of my suit at the bottom, once the race was finished. Unfortunately, I packed my right-handed spiked glove in my bag, and was left at the top with two left handed gloves. This is like a sprinter being faced to run a race with two left shoes! My teammates at the top helped me out, and I was given another glove to use as a replacement. Even though it was too big, I made the best out of my not so bright moment and continued to have a solid, consistent race. You never know when your routine can be broken, and you have to be ready for anything, especially for a big race such as the Olympics. The thing is, in competitive sport, stressful moments will always arise, and in situations when you least want them to. However, this week I proved to myself that I am able to allow my body and mind to just go with the flow, no matter what minor ordeal may take place before a run. I was relaxed and comfortable on my sled once I laid down into the first corner. Despite the ill-fitting glove, after a very funny looking start I allowed myself to relax and ease into my sled. I know the gains that I made during the week of training and at the selection race were due to the comfort level I have on the track in Whistler. Despite its reputation as the fastest track in the world, I am finding myself feeling at home sliding each corner. As my training progresses, this comfort I feel on my sled is crucial if I want to further progress with my relaxation goals this season. Not every one of my international competitors can say that they feel comfortable sliding on the demanding Olympic track in Whistler, and Im sure each one of my international competitors truly envies my training!

Until next time,
-Meaghan Simister