December 3, 2018
Greetings from Latvia!
Team USA has now been here for 9 days, and we have only slid once. At this point we were supposed to have 10+ trips down the track, but due to a track repair needed we have only slid one day for one run (in a training session you normally slide 2-3 times).
The cool part is, I slid that one run. It makes it special for me because I slid with the USA 1 Pilot Elana Meyers Taylor. Latvia has not held a World Cup race in about 12 years, so this was the very first time Elana has slid this track as well. There is not a lot Elana has not done in the sport of bobsleigh (3x Olympic medalist, 12-year veteran) so to be able to say I took her first trip in Latvia was special to me.
It is always nerve wracking to go down a new track for the first time, but it made it even scarier knowing my pilot had never slid this track either (which is very rare). During my warm up, I was extremely giggly because I was that scared and sometimes the only thing I can do when I feel that nervous is to laugh. My job as the brakeman is to make my pilot feel confident, so I had to put my nerves aside and put on my armor of faith to slide.
Standing at the line as the buzzer goes off for us to go, we do our hand shake and all I can think to say while my heart is pounding out of my chest is, “well, let’s go have some fun!”
Elana is one of the best pilots in the world which gave me confidence. If I’m going to slide a new track, I am thankful to have a top pilot take me (the slide went amazing by the way). The other thing that helps me to overcome this fear is to pray for others.
I start to pray for people who would give anything to walk, stand up, or get out of a hospital bed. This helps take the focus off me of being scared and hopefully using it as a prayer to help or bless others. I never want to take what God gave me for granted but to use it fully to thank Him.
By knowing that Jesus has already planned each slide before I have even taken it and praying for others gives me confidence to stand on the line, with my heart pounding out of my chest, and say to my pilot “Let’s go have some fun.” One of my favorite verses is Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Scary things do happen in bobsled all the time. Going 75-95 mph down an ice tube creates that danger and the only way I am able to do this and have fun is by completely trusting that Jesus will protect me. Anything that would happen would be with His permission and ultimately be part of His plan so I don’t walk around with that fear. Saying that, 2 people after our slide had kind of a freak accident.
There are 16 curves at this track and in curve 15, the sled hit the lip of the roof and it tore the back runners off (where the brakeman sits). Our coaches were not comfortable sliding until it is deemed safe by the Federation, so that is why we have been waiting for the clearance to slide.
Races are this Friday. I will not be racing but I believe Jesus will provide other opportunities to race. At this point, I am so thankful to be on the team, traveling the world and representing the USA. This week, I will stand with gratitude in my heart and cheer on my teammates. I prayed long and hard to make the World Cup team, so I am determined not to let the devil steal my joy. Thank you all who have teamed up with me to make this possible. You are in my prayers daily and I know blessings will come back to you the way you have blessed me.
Random Facts from Latvia:
On December 10, we fly from Riga, Latvia to Frankfurt, Germany where we will drive 2 hours to Winterberg, Germany. Elana is racing 2-woman and also 4-woman at this spot. I will most likely be racing in the 4-woman race which is exciting!
More to come from Germany!