Slide, Baby, Slide

January 14, 2011

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The sound of Avril Lavigne’s voice was cut off suddenly when Beth Morgan pull out the earbuds and turned off her iPod.  It was time to rock and roll.

With one run remaining in the Olympics, the battle for the medals in the women’s luge was surprisingly tight.  The iconic German slider, Heidi Jager, had not been her dominant self and held a lead of just .092 seconds over fellow German Katarina Vogel.  Andrea Vogel – yet another German – was in third place, just .124 seconds back.  Beth – the great American hope – trailed by just .191 seconds, but an Austrian was just a hundredth of a second behind her.

The sliders were competing in reverse order of placement, with the best lugers waiting until the tail end for their turn.  Beth had been waiting patiently, and had now nearly reached the most important moment of her life.  She waited for the Autrian to finish her run.  It was a strong run, and Beth would need a mistake-free run to stay in fourth.

“Slide, baby, slide!” she told herself as she prepared for her run.

A moment later, Beth had launched herself down the hill.  She activated her mental map of the course and readied herself for the first turn.  She kept a low line into the corner and exited the curve with her speed still intact.  The adrenaline was coursing through her veins – racing down a sheet of ice at breakneck speed was perhaps second only to busting broncs on her uncle’s ranch in terms of pure excitement.  Beth struggled to keep the adrenaline from taking control – something that could cause her to oversteer and lose her line. 

As she zipped through the corners and straightaways, Beth realized that she was having the best run of her life.  She was perfectly in tune with the course – she was in the midst of a mistake free run, keeping a low line through every curve.  When she crossed the finish line, she glanced up at her time.  46.792!  It was the fastest time of the Olympics so far – and put her in strong contention for a medal.

Andrea Wagner was next on the course.  Beth held her breath as Wagner negotiated the course expertly.  It was a strong performance, but not quite good enough.  Wagner’s run caused her to slip behind Beth in the standings – clinching at least a bronze for the American.

Katarina Vogel had also been paying attention to Wagner’s run.  When Vogel reached the starting gate, she knew that a safe run wasn’t going to be enough to stay ahead of Beth.  She’d need a time of 46.89 or better to avoid slipping in the standings.  Vogel got off to a great start and was soon rocketing down the course.  Beth noticed that the German was taking a high risk, high reward approach.    Vogel made it nearly 2/3 of the way down the course before the risk caught up with her – her sled overturned coming out of a turn.  Vogel quickly righted herself and continued her descent, but she knew that a medal was an impossibility.

Beth Morgan could not contain her excitement!  Who would have ever expected an American to win a silver medal in these Olympics?  She watched Heidi Jager begin her run.  Jager needed a 46.982 to finish ahead of Beth – something she was certainly capable of.  Jager got off to a strong start and ran a low risk run – but, in typically Jager style, was able to get maximum speed out of it.  As the split times popped up, Beth saw that Jager was keeping pace with her time.

Three corners before the end, Jager exited the turn poorly, and it caused her to run bad lines through the final stretch of the course.  Certainly the mistake would cost her – but how much?  When Jager crossed the line, Beth looked up … and saw a time of 46.985!

Beth’s teammates mobed her before the reality sunk in – she was golden!

[Editor’s note: As many of you know, I am a huge fan of luge.  Unfortunately, for fans like myself, there are many good, independent luge sites on the internet – most of the sites are affiliated with governing bodies.  As a result, I have launched, a place where luge fans can gather to discuss the sports.  I’ll be blogging on luge related topics – and seeking other writers to also write articles – but there are also discussion boards where free-form discussions can occur.  The site is still in its infancy (born yesterday), but expect it to grow considerably in the coming months.  As for Avril Lavigne?  Despite being a country fan for the most part, I’m a big fan of her music and just felt like slipping her into a story.  I always have her music on my iPod.]

One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Squeaky
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 11:26:42

    Good one Kos.

    If you really want to live, load some 2Pac on that iPod of yours. It will change your life forever. There a lot of posthumous CD’s that are good too. If you were to listen to Pac while on your Luge—gauranteed gold.

    Two years ago while skiing on put on Pac and made a FAST run at Copper. About 1/2 way down I caught the tip of my ski and broke 2 ribs. Not sure why, but Pac makes me ski really fast. It’s like Teflon baby…Teflon (until you break something).



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