Putting together the pieces
By Regan Lauscher, CTVOlympics.ca
Posted Wednesday, December 2, 2009 4:00 PM ET
Ask me this moment how I feel about the first two world cups of the season and you might find that my 'glass half full' attitude to have suffered some spillage.
And not because I don't think I am capable of performing great. I know that I am. But it sometimes still amazes me how long the road between 'knowing' and actually 'doing' can be.
And how on that metaphorical road, your gas tank full of 'faith', starts to sputter dry.
Because honestly, being on the brink of achieving your goals and coming up short feels a thousand times worse than having them nowhere in sight.
Like how it must feel to get all but one number right on a lottery ticket. Or running a marathon and collapsing five meters before the finish line.
Seriously, what good is it owning all the ducks if, for whatever reason, you can't seem to put 'em all in a row?
How much are moments of brilliance worth if they are swiftly replaced by moments of weakness?
Because honestly, my last two races have their fair share of both.
Lately, it feels like asking me to string together two good race runs is equivalent to requesting I decode Da Vinci.
First up, Calgary.
If there is ever a track where I expect a solid performance, it's here.
And after a successful week of training, that was completely realistic. Almost a given.
And the weekend certainly seemed to start that way.
Second place in the qualification round and fifth place in the Challenge Cup reassured me that I was in striking distance of the top sleds.
For the World Cup, all I had to do was take it down....twice.
But shockingly, I fell short.
A rookie mistake in the middle section of the track put me in 15th after the first run. I redeemed myself with a fast second run, but the damage from the first one was insurmountable. I finished in 10th.
Devastated, confused, embarrassed and mad, the typical self-loathing questions that generally follow disappointment, began to swirl in my head with a lack of resolve.
Did I expect too much or want it too bad? Did nerves get the best of me? Did I not dust off all the cobwebs? Was it just crummy bad luck or did I legitimately choke?
I could sit there and speculate till I was blue in the face but since I would never actually know the answers, I decided that my best option was to pick myself up by the 'bootie'-straps and keep going. (bootie - specialized shoes that lugers wear.)
I decided to scour the race aftermath for any positive bits I could find still intact. And, after I looked long enough, I recovered a few.
My start times were competitive and, barring my mistake, so were my split and finish times. Good enough to put me alongside the top sleds.
So with that, as I packed my sled box destined for the Austrian Alps, I included extra amounts of hope.
At that moment, it felt like I needed it.
Well call it déjà vu, call it fate or call it tough love. Either way, the next week in Austria played out almost identically.
Solid training, a fast first run and a mistake at the start in the second moved me back into 15th...where I stayed.
I was choked.
I wanted to either karate chop something really hard or disappear. And it sucks when neither is an option and you're forced into self-reflection. Especially when you know it ain't pretty.
But again, the signs were all there. Neon and flashing and saying "it's all possible."
If you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink, well then you can lead a luger to ice, but you can't slide for her.
I was frustrated beyond belief. I mean it's Olympic season for crying out loud. Haven't I paid my dues?
I knew I had all the puzzle pieces but I was somehow struggling to put them together in the right order.
Like shopping at an outlet store when it seems like you either get the size right but not in the color you want or the color you want but not in the right size. And it seems like nothing short of a small miracle if you're lucky enough to get both at the same time.
Sadly, my first two races have been those randomly strewn assortment of outlet items. Some good stuff in there, but not exactly what I was hoping for.
So I've been dipping heavily into my reserve stash of hope.
Cause sometimes, when you're out of questions and there are no answers, it's the only thing you have left.