Journey To The 2010 Winter Olympics

Monday, September 11, 2006

Skeleton Training (Updated)

First, I'd like to briefly remember the tragic event that occurred on this date 5 years ago. Simply witnessing that event on television had a profound impact on my life and surely factors into many of the decisions I've made since and who I am today. It is one of the reasons that I want to represent my country athletically.

More troubling news from that day has surfaced recently. Many people (mainly NYFD) who worked at Ground Zero in the weeks following the attacks have lingering respiratory problems. The condition has prevented several from continuing work. It is an image equally devastating to the events of that day: A once proud fireman, who served his country so bravely, describes himself today as a "zero" when just five years ago he was a hero. As our nation heals its infrastructure and economy, and the people who lost loved ones that day move on, there are those whose heroism was rewarded with health problems that might not be repaired. I say, I remember and thank you.


I often get the questions, "How do you train for Skeleton? Are there sleds with wheels that you can practice on around here?"

Although it looks fun, skeleton using a sled with wheels on a road is just an imitation of the actual sport and has no value in training for the Olympic event. Besides, imagine going 70mph on your stomach with your chin hovering above asphalt. Hit a pebble or something and it's major road rash at best!

There are only two Bobsled/ Luge/ Skeleton tracks in the United States and it can be quite difficult to get ice time. Athletes from each sport are assigned a couple of hours per day in which they can practice and you usually need to be a member of the U.S. Development Program (my next step after skeleton school in November) to do so. In the couple of hours per day for Skeleton, the World Cup athletes and those who rank nationally have priority over development athletes. The barriers to entry appear quite high, but it is possible to make a quick assent in the Skeleton Ranks. American, Eric Bernotas, went from a beginner at age 30 in 2002 to Olympian in 2006, finishing 6th in the Torino Games in February. It takes a combination of natural ability/ build and work ethic/ focus/ determination (and maybe a little craziness) that exceeds your competitors-- I believe I have those qualities.

The season is divided into two phases. Typically, athletes train from March to November and compete/ slide the rest of the year. The "off-season" training is all about lower body power and sprinting as a fast start is very important for a good skeleton run ( has some great videos of past Olympic starts/ runs).

Before, I had a typical training week listed here. As I've learned more about my body and the types of exercises that will make me the best slider possible, things have evolved and changed (i.e. the components of my workouts, their frequency, etc.). Here are some of the exercises I do:

Straight Leg Deadlifts
Good Mornings
Calf Raises
45 Degree Reverse Calf Press
Incline Bench
Tricep Extensions
Chest Pulls

I'm learning the Olympic Lifting Progression

30-60m Sprints
Incline Sprints

Plyometrics/ Core:
Incline Sit-ups
Leg Lifts
Reverse Torso Lifts
Consecutive Jumps

This list will continue to evlove and change. Of course, each day includes warm-ups, stretching and core exercises. I have specific targets for weight (lifting) progression, sprint times, jumping lengths/ heights and body weight.


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