Tuesday, 14 March 2017 : Each time a new Olympic venue is completed, there is a process of checking its safety and suitability for competition called ‘homologation’, where a select number of athletes are invited to try it out for the first time.
Some athletes were selected by random draw across the international field and those lucky few came here last year when things were much less finished to try out the track.
That completed successfully, the next stage is to hold a test event, which for skeleton is this year’s final World Cup round.
The venue is looking great, almost finished and very clean and well presented. There are always small teething issues when everything’s new as you might expect, but the organisers are helpful and doing their best to put on a great event.
The track is unique, with corner trajectories that have never been seen before, a long push start and technical questions all the way down.
There’s no kreisel here (a 360 degree corner), but plenty of other challenges from the moment you jump on the sled to the finish line.
The longer your career as a slider, the fewer times you get to experience sliding a new track for the first time as they are only now built at new Olympic venues once every four years.
Obviously learning new tracks is a fairly common occurrence as a beginner when you first start competing and travelling, and at that time feeling out of your comfort zone almost becomes second nature as brand new scenarios are thrown at you constantly.
What makes this trip so unusual is that everyone on the international tour is experiencing being presented with a new track at the same time, so it’s fascinating to see how people and teams approach getting to know it and getting over those fears of being at the start of a learning curve again.
I’m loving having a completely fresh challenge after a long, tough season of competing, and it’s reminding me why I love the sport.\
I still managed to climb three spots the second day, but I finished feeling very deflated that my best hadn’t been good enough.
When you put all your energy and focus into something and it doesn’t come off the way you hope, you can’t help feeling that you’ve let down everyone around you who has worked so hard to get you there.
I’m just hoping that I’m saving all my luck for next season, and in the meantime learning as much as I can on the new Olympic track.
The final World Cup round is here in a week’s time, so it’ll be challenging to go back into competition mode one more time before the summer break.
But I’ll definitely be looking for a strong result to round off the season and lay down a marker for next year.