This article was originally published on Lanette Prediger's website.
After the excitement and unfamiliarity of my first ever World Cup race in Lake Placid, it was comforting that the next stop on the circuit was back home in Calgary. On the journey back I was lucky to be able to stop for a night with my husband to visit with his family in Montreal. Although I wish the visit could have been longer, it was great to get to see them, if only for a day, during the holiday season.
Upon return to the Calgary airport, my long standing fears about flying with so much irreplaceable and time sensitive luggage (my sled, runners, and sliding equipment), came true. None of my skeleton equipment managed to make it onto the plane during the three hour connection in Toronto. It was especially stressful as an extra day of paid training, the next day, had been added last minute. We made arrangements to get the sled as soon as possible and from then on there was nothing to do but wait. The sled finally arrived at 3 am, and at least in the end I didn’t have to miss any training.
To prevent the fatigue and hopefully sluggish pushing I experienced in Lake Placid, I planned to take the last day before the race off. Being my home track, I felt that it was more important to be rested than to take two more runs on a track I have hundreds. Therefore, I did one day of paid training, 2 days of official training, then shut it down. Training went very well. In fact, during my last day of training I got two personal best down times. After sliding here for 7 years it becomes more and more difficult to get personal bests. I think every athlete at some point wonders when they will plateau and stop improving. It was reassuring to know that I am in fact still continuing to get faster. In a moment of self indulgence, I am proud to say I slid a 57.27s, which to my knowledge is the second fastest time ever slid by a woman on the Calgary track since it was built in 1988! Although it wasn’t a race, I still consider this quite an accomplishment. Small victories!
I spent the day before the race sled prepping and visiting with my family who came to Calgary to cheer me on. I could feel the strength and vitality returning to my body. On the morning of the race I felt rested and strong. I was as well prepared as I could be and I was looking forward to rocking it in the race.
Unfortunately, the conditions of the track had changed since my training two days earlier. The air and ice temperatures were significantly warmer than before, more than I had predicted. I knew I didn’t have the best runners for the conditions but by that time there was nothing I could do about it. I dropped off my sled in parc ferme and headed off for a good warm up.
It was excellent to see a large turnout for our race. The stands were quite full and there were people milling up and down and track. In addition to my family, I was honoured to see several of my work colleagues from Urgent Care come out to support me. I’ve said it before, but again I truly feel blessed to work with such a great group of people.
I was 6th off this time around and blasted off the block. Unfortunately, I think I was a little too excited and ran quite short, two cycles less than normal, and didn’t get good a good hip position off the block. Regardless, once I loaded onto the sled I had a pretty good run. After the first heat I was 6th.
By time the second heat rolled around the air and ice temps were dropping. I knew my equipment was better suited to these conditions, and combined with a slightly better push, I had the opportunity to move up in the rankings. Only 25/100ths of a second was between myself and third place, and I felt that was doable.
When it came time for my run I felt great. My legs were light and quick and I was happy with my equipment for the changing ice conditions. I pushed off the block once more, focusing on dropping the hips and keeping things straight and light following that.
I went to load onto my sled, and then disaster struck. For some reason, whether it was the additional speed from a faster push, or running slightly too far, my left hand missed my sled and jammed my thumb into the saddle when I was loading. My hand ended up landing on the ice, along with my left leg.The momentum shifted the sled the other way and I could feel it about to pop out of the groove. I reacted as quickly as possible, managing to keep on my sled and in the groove. But it was devastating as I knew my chances of moving up were over, and I had to be as perfect as possible the rest of the way down to salvage whatever speed I still had.
I was able to refocus and have a great run. I had the highest speeds of the day, and a good down time despite the start. My push was faster than my first one despite the fall, which I think is an indication of how much faster I was going when it happened. However, it wasn’t enough to maintain my position and I fell to 7th by 6/100ths of a second. Overall, despite my hopes and expectations for a better result, my team mates and I did very well with all three females and one male in the top 10.
As you saw I landed very awkwardly on my hand and stretched my thumb out into a position it really should never be in. Although I knew something wasn’t right as soon as I tried to pick my sled up at the end of the race, I gave it a couple of days for the pain and swelling to subside. However, the symptoms were persistent and I went in to get it checked out. Unfortunately my thumb had sustained a small fracture as well as an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear, more commonly known as “skier’s thumb”. As a result I now am wearing a splint for the next 6 weeks.
Despite my injury, after the race I quickly had to switch into “work mode” in order to fund the second half of the season. I sure have a lot more empathy for people who have hand injuries! It makes the most simple activities such as braiding my hair and zipping up my jacket very challenging. Luckily I was able to get through my shifts without too much trouble, and some help from my colleagues who stepped in when I didn’t feel I was up to a procedure (i.e. suturing).
Now that the holiday break is over, and the coffers are replenished enough to (barely) make it through the next six weeks, I am back off to Europe for the second half of the World Cup Circuit. Our first stop is Altenberg, and then back to Koniggsee the next week.
I hope you had a great holiday season, and thanks for reading! And I wish you the very best for the New Year.