Continuing on… Saturday December 1st, 2012
Ida and I in our massive Europcar with a 400lb bobsled were off to trek to La Plagne France from Igls Austria. Now despite what google maps may say… it is not a seven hour drive. it took us 13 hours, and we might have happened to get lost along the may due to an address that was unable to be located by the gps, and google maps, but somehow i was able to make a reservation at… After driving for 10ish hours or so we decided to attempt to find the hotel where our friends on the US skeleton team were staying in la plagne. We didn’t exactly know if we would be able to find them without working cell phones, or where they were staying, but it was that or sleep in the van (which for a time was a very probable option).
Somehow we managed to come across a stroke of good luck or fortune or something… We eventually found the general area in which they were staying after a couple more stops and questions. I am so fortunate that I studied French in highschool. I used it so frequently and even though I’m well aware my accent was most likely incredibly garish -it still helped so much. So we eventually drove up the side of the mountain passed a bar that we hoped they might be at or might contain someone who could help us. We were driving by and there was a group of people outside, so Ida asked someone if they could help us. The guy who walked over happened to once work at the place he thought we wanted to go to. Like all of Europe… no one works past 5 or so on any day in any location including hotel reception, so this guy gets us into the hotel and sets us up with a room for the night. THANKFULLY!!! We go back to the bar where he was and insist we buy him a drink to thank him for his help, went back and went to sleep!
The next day was paid training… I took one run from a lower start and there was a bit of a problem in the braking stretch… the finish ramp is very steep and my brakeman did not pull the brakes hard enough and we started going backwards… I had expected the sled to stop and had started to get out, as we started going backwards, I climbed back in and pulled up on the brakes… pulling them through the sled and ripping the fiberglass… this was a sled I had rented so now the damage was on me. We brought the sled back up to the top and decided to take one run from the top because the damage wasn’t too substantial and I needed to go off from the top. I went, it was a really good run… and the Great Britain Team offered to help me re-fiberglass.
The next few days were training only for men so I track walked and watched lines. I learned as much as I could, lifted, did sled work etc.
The following Wednesday was the first day of official training. It went well as did the rest of the days following. Our biggest concerns were generally shoveling our truck out of the snow, figuring out how to move our sled, dragging a 400lb sled on wooden transports upon concrete is no easy task for two women weighing 165lbs. We got so so so much snow in La Plagne and our hotel and the track and literally on the slide of a mountain where all the roads are built in switch back style, and there are frequent stops to put chains on your tires… unfortunately for us we did not have chains, or snow tires… this proved to be quite challenging. Even other trucks vans and cars with chains often got stuck, but lucky for us, we seemed to make it through the week. I had considered driving down the mountain to the closest town called Aime, but I was worried that if I drove all the way down there and the store was closed, that I would not be able to make it up the hill to our hotel. Given it was a small town, and Europe’s inconsistent and infrequent hours, we never drove down and we rarely had time to anyway.
On Race day, we slid almost a second faster than we had during practice and placed 6th. On a track I’d never been to, with only one other teammate sliding with me all week, I was very happy with how I drove and how we placed. We attempted to drive back to Igls after the race but got a late start. We drove for awhile, our GPS attempted to send us the wrong way up the side of a mountain, onto a road that we were not allowed to drive up and resembled a got path… With snow covered two roads made large enough for one car, the darkness of night, no snow tires, no guard rails, and low gas… we turned around and went back down the mountain in neutral. We made it to a gas station, found a Mcdonalds that we could access the internet from, got some directions, and ignored the GPS until it finally took us the correct way to Austria.
We drove and drove and drove and after listening to the same cd for a very long time we decided it would be best if we stopped because we were not going to make it to the hotel in Innsbruck until 5 in the morning and we had been up since 5:30am and raced. Finding a hotel along the way was a feat in itself… absurdly we presumed that maybe roadside hotels would even be open -but they were not. We tried a couple, we tried to find some close to us on the gps, stopped in a couple cities along the way… to find something… then as we were continuing down the main highway we saw one of the most beautiful things we have ever seen -AN OPEN HOTEL! It was the first roadside stop type complex we had seen! We checked in, did our best to haggle that since we were staying only one night and it was past midnight… about 2:30am at this point. It was the most expensive roadside hotel i’ve ever been to, but with no other options -what choice did we have, and when you’re that tired… it was worth it.
We woke up and continued on… finally making it to Innsbruck after about 5 hours -we weren’t even close I can’t imagine what would have happened if we have kept going and never found another open hotel.