Athlete Blog: Regan LauscherThis is it.
My final season.
And there isn't a better time than now to be completely honest with myself.
When it's all said and done and life moves on without skipping a beat, what do I want to remember?
Beyond medals and jackets and titles, what does this all mean?
With reporter requests growing exponentially by the day, as per usual in an Olympic season, it almost becomes part of our daily routines to spill our guts, state our opinions and set the facts straight.
I recently spoke to a reporter who was writing a feature on me in the run-up to the games. And, in true feature form, we started at the beginning and included every detail.
He asked me everything.
And so I told him....
I confided that I never actually 'wanted' to luge. That I don't remember the '88 games. And that more than once, I have seriously considered walking away from it all.
My voyage through luge has encountered as many twists and turns as the icy tracks I slide down.
And my copy of "Olympics For Dummies" mysteriously never came in.
Not knowing what's going to happen next is, annoyingly, what I love and hate most about it.
And I wish I could tell you that, by now, I've got it all figured out but I don't.
Reminiscing about the 2002 games, my goal was simply to get there. To qualify. To represent.
When I look back to that time, my goals had nothing to do with the final place beside my name on a giant illuminated scoreboard. It was merely about getting my name to appear on that scoreboard in the first place.
But during the next quadrennium I made significant gains.
My historic silver medal and a handful of other podium success had legitimately secured me in the top competitive group. In the span of four years, my goals had drastically changed for the 2006 games in Turin.
After smelling the blood I was now in the hunt.
But 10th, didn't satisfy my hunger.
Like a dieter who, after religiously sticking to a strict food and exercise regime steps on the scale to find out they've actually gained a couple pounds, I felt cheated.
Even the prospect of a home Olympics didn't cure the nasty case of the bitter bones I had contracted.
I wanted to pull the plug on the whole thing.
But the unanimously crumpled confusion plaguing the faces of the people I would tell this to made me hesitate.
So I eased back into things, taking the first half of the next season off.
And then, less than a month after returning to Europe with the team, I sustained a major head injury after a devastating crash in the bottom section of a track in Germany.
Bound by a neck collar and bed-pan, I laid in the hospital for the next three days while the swelling in my brain came down and reconsidered my options.
If I wanted it....this was my chance.
I could walk away from luge, blame it on the crash and nobody would have looked down on me for it. The possibility of another disappointing Olympic finish would vanish.
I wouldn't have to convince anyone of my decision...except myself.
But I wasn't ready to accept a fluke accident taking me out of the game. I was determined that my last run on a luge track would not end on a stretcher.
Actually, the thought of a 'comeback' was a tad intoxicating. I envisioned my rise to glory, where, in the end, people would marvel at my courage and bravery. I could practically hear the theme song from 'Rocky' playing.
Well...it's a good thing my degree is not in fortune telling.
How does it go, "when it rains, it pours"?
The following February, I was back in the hospital awaiting the first of two surgeries to repair the severe damage I suffered in both shoulders. The next nine months were spent in immobilizers and rehab.
It was a full year before I could even consider being competitive.
Which brings me to now.
And, not surprisingly, my goals have been reinvented again.
And although I would love to tell ya, like every good athlete is expected, that I'm stacking all my bets on gold, these are the facts.
By missing at least half of the total races in the past three years while re-building my body and re-learning to slide means that, for this next Olympics, my objective becomes this.
Do whatever is within my power to do to re-claim my place within the top competitors.
And then race the best I possibly can.
When I first began this journey I had no idea what was in store for me. And the truth is, I still don't.
I don't have an Olympic medal. Maybe I never will.
But, at the end of the day, I will have somehow come through it all. Knowing that, even when it seemed logical, I didn't quit. I have fought for what I believe in and for what I want.
I don't own any world records and my picture isn't on a cereal box. But I have proudly raced for our country with integrity and pride for 16 years.
And that alone has made it worth it.