Journey To The 2010 Winter Olympics

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Reading This Site

Note: This post remains on top so you will find new posts and updates to existing ones below.

The Westcott Foundation
David Chandler
B.Kaye and David Beckner
Clara DeWilde
D. Conner
Margaret and Paul Evans
The Craig Family
Thomas Ely
Dave and Elise Borne
Charles Shearer
Kamran Boka
Melinda Skinner

Raised to date: $3,229/$12,000 for 2006-07 season. This is going to take a team effort and I really appreciate the generosity of my sponsors and those helping in other ways.

Sponsor Card

Thanks for your interest and support!


A Spectator Guide

Contents (most recent posts first):

The Energy to Move
My decision.

AK 07
A blurb about this summer.

A milestone and touring the ski jumping facilities.

Life of a Devo Athlete
Early season update.

BG man takes up skeleton
Links to recent article in the BG Daily News.

USA Skeleton Lake Placid Schedule (UPDATED) for 2006-07
Includes training times and more.

Searching for the skeleton key
A brief on my recent Courier Journal interview/ article.

Skeleton School to Traffic School,
Warm Weather and Winter Sports,
We're just the kids that found the biggest hill...
The above posts talk about my experiences at Skeleton School in November 2006 (include photos).

You're Pretty Sure You'll Never Be the Next Great Skeleton Racer
Provides information about the progression of an athlete in the sport of Skeleton.

Sponsorship: A Tax-deductible Donation or Gift?
Post outlines the USBSF Athletic Training Fund and the process of becoming a sponsor.

Skeleton School Announced
Highlights from the USBSF Skeleton School 2006 announcement/ schedule.

Skeleton Training (Updated)
This post addresses common training questions and gives insight into the types of exercises/ movements that are prevalent in my training.

Meet Jay Beckner
A brief autobiographical section including how I found the sport and my motivations/ values.

What Exactly Is Skeleton?
Post gives a good explanation of the sport and its origins.

Journey To The 2010 Winter Olympics
A brief introduction to my goals in Skeleton. The recruiters say they are searching for 2014 Olympians now, but I'm gunning for Vancouver!


Skeleton Tracks and Sliding Experience
Austria Igls
Canada Calgary
Germany Altenberg
Germany Konigssee
Germany Winterberg
France LaPlagne
Italy Cesana Pariol (Torino)
Japan Nagano
Latvia Sigulda
Norway Lillehammer
Switzerland St. Moritz
USA Lake Placid 81 runs
USA Park City

The Energy to Move

It was quite a struggle over the summer coming to the decision to suspend my endeavors in skeleton to return to school and finish my MBA. But, I'm happy with my choice and am excited about the future.

Thanks again for your interest and support.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

AK 07

This summer, I'm in Skagway, AK working for White Pass as a Train Agent (guide). I'm using this time to earn money to help pay for last/ next winter, heal my injury and decide if sliding next season is an option for me. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Sliding continues to go well. I hit a milestone on Friday, breaking the 60s mark at Lake Placid, but I have many things to work on and a long way to go to put down nationally competitive down times. Club Races begin in a couple weeks and the big one, Regional Championships, is March 1-3. On a light day yesterday, a few of us ventured out of the training center to take in some of the other sports. Here are some pics from the ski jumping facilities.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Life of a Devo Athlete

After my now traditional visit to Glens Falls, NY on the way to Lake Placid, I arrived at the Olympic Training Center on Monday afternoon. I got settled in and greeted my roommate Jake, an 18 year old 'college dropout' from Mississippi. Like me, he's putting school on hold to pursue his dreams on the ice.

Early in the afternoon on Tuesday we headed to the track for our first session since Skeleton School in November. Standing at the top of the track for that first run was an interesting feeling that I find difficult to describe. I was calm, not nervous, but maybe it was acceptance more than cool. The run was awesome and a couple seconds faster than my last one. I kept getting faster on the track through the first couple sliding sessions, but my neck and body was weakened significantly by the track's forces. The second couple of days had their problems including helmet issues and warming temps that really slowed the track and seemed to make for a rougher ride. Despite my lumps, I learned a lot this week and am excited to get back at it on Monday stronger and better.

Off the track, our Strength and Conditioning Coach has given us sprint and power workouts. As you might imagine, I spend 100% of each day engaged in either activity or recovery. It is a privilege to be staying/ training at the OTC as the coaches and facilities create the optimum environment for athletic success. I am committed to staying for the rest of the season, but it depends largely on fundraising. It seems like each of us has something (family, job, school, money) that we must overcome to make the most of this opportunity and financing is mine. You may not know that development athletes do not receive assistance from the USBSF or USOC and must pay all expenses including travel, fees, lodging and equipment. As I've learned from a good friend who's been in my shoes, fundraising is just part of the American Olympic dream and gives others a chance to be part of something special.

I'm keeping the schedule post (below) updated with my sliding times. Check back to see my progress and get up here to watch if possible!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

BG man takes up skeleton

A couple days after Christmas I was interviewed by the Bowling Green Daily News for the article BG man takes up skeleton. Photos were taken at the Bowling Green High School track/ football field where I once took a shag bag and hit 8-irons through the far uprights for practice. Thanks to Mr. Stapelton and Ms. Pederson for their work on this piece!

Note: apparently you must be a subscriber to see the archived article.

Friday, December 29, 2006

USA Skeleton Lake Placid Schedule for 2006-07

Lake Placid Domestic Racing and Training Season:
We will be sliding Sunday-Friday” this year. Due to the closing of the 1980 track for passenger rides, Saturday will be our day off for most of the season. All “official training” weeks are mandatory.

Early on in learning the sport, times don't mean much. It's more about getting the feel of driving and learning to slide. But I'm going to post training times here for my interested readers! (Note: LP track record: 54.74s, Gold Medal runs in recent LP World Cup: 55.15, 56.27) Times depend on many factors like start times, driving, equipment and ice conditions.

Dec. 19 -– 20 Official training for National Qualifiers
Dec. 21 - 22 National Qualifiers - —Lake Placid
Jan. 2 -– 4 National Championships Training -– Park City
Jan. 5 - 6 National Championships - Park City
Jan. 8 - 14 Open Training
1/9 3runs (best: start 6.06 finish 62.30 speed 103.1 km/hr)
1/10 3runs (best: start 5.73 finish 61.38 speed 103.4 km/hr)
1/11 3runs (best: start 5.67 finish 61.33 speed 104.6 km/hr)
1/12 2runs (best: start 5.74 finish 63.98 speed 98.68 km/hr)
Jan. 15 - 21 Open Training
1/15 2runs (best: start 5.54 finish 65.18 speed 97.17 km/hr)
1/16 2runs (best: start 5.70 finish 62.43 speed 101.1 km/hr)
1/17 2runs (best: start 5.68 finish 60.93 speed 102.9 km/hr)
1/18 3runs (best: start 5.52 finish 60.88 speed 103.0 km/hr)
1/19 2runs (best: start 5.65 finish 61.85 speed 102.5 km/hr)
Jan. 22 - Feb. 4 Open Training
1/22 3runs (best: start 5.70 finish 60.79 speed 105.0 km/hr)
1/23 2runs (best: start 5.72 finish 61.85 speed 101.6 km/hr)
1/24 3runs (best: start 5.56 finish 60.59 speed 104.4 km/hr)
1/25 no sliding- COLD
1/26 3runs (best: start 5.68 finish 59.87 speed 108.0 km/hr)
1/29 3runs (best: start 5.65 finish 59.84 speed 107.4 km/hr)
1/30 2runs (best: start 5.54 finish 60.70 speed 104.0 km/hr)
1/31 2runs (best: start 5.58 finish 60.42 speed 105.3 km/hr)
2/1 3runs (best: start 5.54 finish 61.05 speed 103.2 km/hr)
2/2 3runs (best: start 5.54 finish 60.53 speed 105.7 km/hr)
Feb. 5 -– 9 Official Training
2/5 3runs (best: start 5.68 finish 60.24 speed 107.7 km/hr)
2/6 3runs (best: start 5.78 finish 59.61 speed 107.7 km/hr)
2/7 3runs (best: start 5.85 finish 60.50 speed 107.2 km/hr)
2/8 2runs (best: start 5.75 finish 60.79 speed 103.6 km/hr)
2/9 1run (best: start 5.76 finish 60.09 speed 107.7 km/hr)
Feb. 10 Club Race #1
I placed 6th out of 11 sliders- 2 heats, finish 1:59.10 (59.64, 59.46). Because of weight conformity issues, I raced on a different school sled that I'd taken down the track only once-- I sat too far back on it and it gave my chin and mouth quite a beating. Sure looking forward to getting my own sled! Here is a video of my start in heat one:

Feb. 12 -– 16 Official Training
2/12 did not slide
2/13 2 runs (best: start 5.71 finish 58.99 speed 109.7 km/hr)
2/14 2 runs (best: start 5.77 finish 59.64 speed 106.0 km/hr)
2/15 track closed- SNOW WIND
2/16 track closed- SNOW WIND

Feb. 17 - 18 Club Race #2 and #3
7th out of 10 sliders- 2 heats, finish 1:58.57 (59.32, 59.25)
8th out of 10 sliders- 2 heats, finish 2:00.46 (60.31, 60.15)
I did reasonably well on the 17th with better pushes and consistent downtimes, but the 18th provided a lesson in improper runner sanding as I was very skiddy.

Feb. 19 -– 23 Empire State Games Training
2/19 2runs (best: start 5.57 finish 58.73 (Season PR) speed 109.7 km/hr)
2/20 3runs (best: start 5.54 finish 61.59 speed 103.7 km/hr) Frosty Track!
2/21 did not slide
2/22 2runs (best: start 5.x finish x speed x km/hr- awaiting time sheets)
Feb. 23 - 25 Empire State Games -– must qualify through National Team or Club Races
2/23 Opening Ceremonies
2/24 8th out of 9 sliders- 2 heats, finish 1:59.31 (59.50, 59.81)

Tonight's runs were not very good. Starts were poor as my quad injury is not getting better and the rides were gnarly. The open men's division was mostly national team members and the fact that I continue to ride inferior equipment amplifies the already wide gap between my skill and theirs. On the bright side, I made it down free from injury. Ryan and Mallory would be happy with that result- during heat one he partially collapsed a lung and she was knocked out and got a concussion. An "81" in the track is not something an athlete wants to experience.

Feb. 26 - Mar. 4 Eastern Regional Championships-– must qualify through National Team or Club Races
I qualified for Regionals (as did every Club Race participant), but I'm calling it a season after Empires. I have another doctor's appointment on Wednesday (2/28) regarding the mass in my left quadricep muscle; it's been a battle since the injury on January 19th. Also, due to some bad luck with my sled order, I do not have my own sled. Without that I am not permitted to compete in Regional Champs. Maybe that's a blessing as I need to get my leg healthy before I can continue. Besides, I really need to raise some more $$ so I can close the deficit of spending this season and gear up properly for next year. Thanks for your continued interest and support.
Mar. 5 -– 11 No housing at OTC - LP WC Snowboard
Mar. 12 -– 18 Open Training
Mar. 19 -– 23 Official Training
Mar. 25 Randy Price Memorial Race
Mar. 29 - 30 FIBT North American Invitational
Apr. 1 - 8 Open Training
Apr. 9 - 15 Open Training
Apr. 16 - 23 Open Training
Apr. 24 - 30 Open Training

If anyone would like to come watch, email me and I'll let you know when I'm training or racing.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Searching for the skeleton key

What an awesome Christmas present. Thanks, Mr. Hall and Ms. Lloyd, for such a great piece. Here's the link to the web version of the Courier Journal article, Searching for the skeleton key.

If you have a chance, pick up a print copy of today's paper-- it looks great as the lead article in the Sports section!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Last Friday, I had a great experience being interviewed by Louisville's Courier Journal. They sent a brave staff photographer to document one of my sprint workouts; it was a brisk seventeen degrees that morning. Later that day, I met with an equally professional reporter. His depth of questioning was very impressive and I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Search for the story at the link above or pick up a copy of the paper on Christmas Day.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Skeleton School to Traffic School

As soon as I wrote about the warm weather it turned cold. The temperature dropped almost as fast as a 4-man bobsled screaming out of Benham's Bend into the chicane. Once the crew rebuilt the track and after a two day break from sliding, we got back on the ice Saturday and Sunday night. We were divided into two groups based on a team push competition held the day before; group one took two runs from Start 3 while group two watched the carnage down the track at Turn 11. I was in that lucky second group which put a little more edge on the rest of the night!

Saturday was our third session on the ice and after the Start 3 runs we headed up to Start 1. I'll admit it. The fear factor the first time off the top was intense and nothing could have prepared me for the speed, the pressure on my body and head/ helmet and the inability to see/ react to what was coming at me on the track. I was at the mercy of the Devil's Highway, The Labyrinth and The Heart. In the words of my fellow student Heather, "It was wicked fun."

The highlight of sliding for me was my first run on Sunday. I was sliding (relatively) well and as I came to a stop on the Outrun there were people on the platform cheering and calling my name. Ecstatic with my run and the noise, I popped up off of my sled and thrust my arms in the air! My friends, Lawrence and Aimee, who live in Glens Falls, NY, had come up to take in the night's heats. In that moment I thought, "I could get used to this/ I can do this." After the open air truck ride back to the top, the recruiter approached me and extended an invitation to join the USA Skeleton Development Team which begins with a sliding session in January. The feeling of accomplishment was great as I'd been working toward that invitation since March, but it was short lived. I've just gained the opportunity to become an elite athlete in an Olympic Sport. I've got a lot of work to do and I can't wait.

A quick note on my performance: I shaved about 0.15s off of my push time since August to 5.36s and was in the top 3/13 in top speed and downtimes on the track.

As you know, the pursuits of the amateur athlete are not without hardship. Aside from the obvious physical and mental challenges and daily sacrifice, the economics of the Olympic dream are very difficult and prevent many capable athletes from achieving their goals. Financing is a huge obstacle for me and I can't do it without sponsorship. In the Reading This Site post is a sponsorship card that makes donating easy. Just click on it and print! To date, I've raised $1,300 of my $12,000 goal and I have a very short window in which I need to give IUS notice on next semester and get geared up for January.

Now, I'll address the title of this entry. The day after getting back from New York where I was clocked at speeds in excess of 60mph on a sled and encouraged to go fast, I got a speeding ticket for driving my car 44mph in a 25mph zone. The officer didn't appreciate the irony.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Warm Weather and Winter Sports

Unseasonably warm weather combined with wind and rain has closed the track for the last couple days. We've carried on with our scheduled push training and off track education and filled our sliding time with stuff like volleyball and football. The people running camp have been apologetic, but that's how it goes in this weather.

The sliding sports are very complex despite how easy the athletes make it look sometimes. Sliding theory is very interesting and is well-founded in physics. Track knowledge and experience play a huge role as there is virtually no time to react to what you see coming at you on the track. Coaches can offer a new slider advice, but the athlete must learn largely by trial and error/ self teaching and time.

The photos above are from the giant treadmill at the Olympic Training Center that we used today to get a better feel for being relaxed on the sled and driving. Hopefully we'll be back on the ice tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

We're just the kids that found the biggest hill...

Sliding has been an experience like I couldn't have imagined! It is an amazing rush, except for that wall coming out of turn 12 in the Labyrinth that seems to have an affinity for my right shoulder, elbow and ankle. Or was it Shady II (turn 10)? It's tough to know after a few runs on an unfamiliar track going really fast. Here are some photos from my time so far at Skeleton School:

Also, here's a helmet cam video (below) of a run on the Lake Placid track (not shot by me, of course) so you can get a little better idea of what I'm experiencing. More soon!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

You're Pretty Sure You'll Never Be the Next Great Skeleton Racer

"Let's be honest, if there was one gold medal out there that I could, in theory, win, it'd be in the skeleton, right? Since barely anybody in the world even knows how to do it and all... " - You

The above is a little humor from an article written shortly after Duff Gibson's gold medal performance in Torino in February. It doesn't contain the most accurate skeleton info, but it's a very funny read. Check it out.

It has come to my attention that my readers and potential sponsors might like to know a little more about the process of becoming the next great skeleton racer. Makes sense as the article states barely anyone knows how to do it at all. The following is a brief description of the skeleton athlete's progression in the sport and my progress to date. Oh, there's a little about expenses too...

Can anyone do it? Well, the USBSF makes a cut before they even see you if that tells you anything. You must have a good athletic resume or perform well on the 4-item test (30m from standing, 30m flying-in, 5 hop, vertical leap) at a recruiting event to be invited to Push Camp. In June 2006, I met with USBSF Strength and Conditioning Coach, Greg Sand, at the OTC in Chula Vista, CA, to discuss the sport and my prospects. It was from that meeting (not to mention a series of fantastic and fortunate events that landed that meeting) that I gained my invitation to Push Camp.

At Push Camp, athletes complete the 4-item test and are taught how to push a sled using the two-hand method. You are judged on a variety of qualities including athleticism, natural push technique, motivation, coachability and the flexibility in your life. With a good performance there, you receive an invitation to Skeleton School; about half of the participants at Push Camp received an invitation. I was a standout on the push track with naturally efficient movements and I performed well on the 4-item test, but there is room for improvement. Prior to camp, I worked mainly on sprinting and it showed in my 4-item test results. Since, I have added a lower body power component to my workouts that will help performance on the jump tests and lead to faster start times- more later in a training update. I received a Tier 1 Skeleton School Invitation out of Push Camp.

The next great skeleton racer gets on the ice for the first time at Skeleton School. There athletes learn all things skeleton from how to drive a sled at 70mph to runner maintenance. The school in Lake Placid/ November also includes sprint training, the 4-item test and International training "watch and learn" at the Verizon Sports Complex. Successful athletes are invited to join the United States Development Program for Skeleton.

New U.S. Development Program athletes will begin training in January 2007 in Lake Placid. At this juncture, athletes purchase the major gear (a sled and other racing items) necessary to become a slider and compete. This training session lasts approximately eight weeks with time typically spent between the track and the OTC, sliding and training. It could depend on performance during that time or qualifying runs, but around the first of March sliders compete in Regional Championships. The goal for that race is to qualify for U.S. National Team Trials.

National Team Trials are used to determine the membership of the next season's World Cup, Europa Cup and America's Cup Teams. In an Olympic year, performance in the current season's World Cup races determines whether or not you participate in the Games! For more information on this process see the USBSF Athlete Selection Procedures.

Piece of cake right? Well, at least the writer of the aforementioned article was close on the financial challenges of the Olympic hopeful. He wrote,
"There are other problems, too, though. First, it seems to you like you have to be independently wealthy to be an Olympic athlete. That, or get a bunch of sponsors, but who sponsors skeleton athletes? Otherwise, how do you make a living while you're wasting your life for four years training to be a top skeletoner? Now, I don't know about the time wasting part, and the "skeletoner" bit is way off, but financing is a tough proposition. Including Skeleton School, expenses are approaching $3,000. Assuming I achieve the desired result next month, they'll balloon to over $11,000 by January. On a student's budget this is impossible! Skeleton sponsors: please let me know if you would like more information on my expense projections/ refer to the post on the USBSF ATF for sponsorship details.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sponsorship: A Tax-deductible Donation or Gift?

In the course of my fundraising efforts, people have been asking if sponsorship is tax-deductible. Yes, the USBSF offers the Amateur Athlete Training Fund for this purpose. Here's how it works:

Making a tax deductible contribution (the short story):

The sponsor sends the funds made payable to the USBSF - Athletic Training Fund to:

U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation
196 Old Military Road
Lake Placid, NY 12946

If the donor’s name and complete address is not clearly printed on the check, please provide that information in an attached letter. This will ensure proper routing of subsequent correspondence including the tax info/ receipt. Also in the attached letter, state that the funds are for me, Jay Beckner! Do not put my name on the check or it will be considered a gift (and therefore not tax-deductible).

Please let me know when you plan make a dontation so that I can check with the Federation to make sure the funds have been allocated properly. I will access the funds by submitting reimbursement forms to the USBSF subject to the rules and limits of the ATF.

I respect your decision to help and you will not be slighted on effort-- I will pursue this goal relentlessly. The financial need for the 2006-2007 season is $11,000. Thank you for your interest and support!

Making a tax deductible contribution (the details):



The United States Bobsled & Skeleton Federation is pleased to offer the Amateur Athlete Training Fund (ATF) to help offset the training expenses of its athletes. Sponsors and donors may send donations to the ATF to benefit the general athlete pool, or a specific purpose. However, the USBSF maintains discretionary use of these funds if an athlete retires, is suspended, or leaves the sport. Additionally, in order to receive reimbursement of expenses through the ATF, the athlete must demonstrate the desire to participate and continue to participate in the sport of bobsled or skeleton. Attached is a list of qualifying expenses that athletes use as a guide to access these funds. The USBSF will reimburse athletes upon receipt of qualifying expense reports.

The ATF is intended to provide incentive for individual athletes to develop sponsorship to cover their individual bobsled and skeleton training needs while maintaining their amateur eligibility status.

Under joint supervision of the USBSF Treasurer and Executive Director, the following general procedures will be observed:

The athlete, and the Executive Director’s designate, will communicate regarding the specific dispersals from his/her training fund. The budget and audit committee of the USBSF will make final decisions with regards to any questionable expenditure.

USBSF Discretion

If an athlete helps to solicit donations to this fund, we will make every effort to assist that athlete in qualifying for those funds with the following exception:

Any remaining funds in an athlete’s account upon his/her retirement, suspension, or death will be used to assist other active athletes. An athlete will be considered to be retired if he/she does not slide for one entire season, and has not sent a letter to the USBSF expressing his/her intent to slide in a subsequent season.

Funding Allocations

100% of donated/gifted funds are available to athletes.

Gifts vs. Donations

Funds provided to athletes which do no qualify as “donations” for the ATF are considered to be gifts from the donor to the athlete. Gifts should be made payable directly to the athletes rather than gifting through the Athletic Training Fund.

If the sponsorship funds are to be classified as a “gift”, the sponsor will not receive credit for a tax-deductible donation. In this scenario, the USBSF will not need to report your income to the IRS.
The USBSF will assume all sponsorship funds received are “donations”, except in the following three specific cases:

1. A sponsorship will be considered a “gift: if the sponsor sends a letter with the donation specifically stating the sponsorship is a “gift.”

2. A sponsorship will be considered a “gift: if the USBSF is aware of any familial relationship between the donor and donee, regardless of intent by the donor.

3. A sponsorship will be considered a “gift” if the athlete’s name appears anywhere on the check (even in the memo section).

If the sponsorship funds are classified as a “donation”, the sponsor may take credit for a tax-deductible donation as IRS rules permit. In this scenario, if the athlete subsequently accesses $600 or more from those “donated” funds from his/her account during any calendar year, the USBSF will issue a 1099-MISC to the athlete by January 31 of the following year, meaning the athlete’s income for the previous calendar year will be reported to the Internal Revenue Service. From there, it will be the athlete’s responsibility to report this income on their annual tax return. The USBSF does not offer tax advice and donors and athletes should consult a tax advisor.

Allowable expense categories:

skeleton sled with 1 set of runners ($2000), modifications to a sled (this total payable once- 500), helmet (when not supplied- 150), Racing gloves (when not supplied -50), Protective pads (50), Speed suit (200), Track spikes (2 pair- 200), Training clothes (when not supplied- 500), Sled maintenance (tools & supplies- 250), Transportation to various training sites (when not covered- 3000), Extra runners (2 pair - when not supplied- 700), Health care (1500), Per diem ($70 per day - 180 days max -when not supplied) per diem includes lodging&meals $60/day + incidentals $10/day (12,600), Track fees - annual cap (1,000), Dues, educational fees, and other training fees (i.e. Misc.- 2000, Maximum (24700)-- these limits are currently under review.

Making a gift:

Please contact me by email if you would rather send a gift directly to me. I will not comingle the funds with my personal accounts and promise to spend conservatively and responsibly toward becoming the best slider I can be.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Skeleton School Announced

United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation
NOVEMBER 13-20, 2006

I received my invitation to Skeleton School today! The email included info on when, where, what and how much. It will be held back at the Olympic Training Center/ Verizon Sports Complex in Lake Placid, NY on the dates above. The cost is $1,100 plus gear (including: mouthguard, elbow and knee pads, sweatsuit, gloves, running gear for sprinting in the gym, general cold weather clothing) and travel. The school fee includes housing at the OTC, meals, track fees and t-shirt.

Instruction includes: how to train for skeleton, how to conduct a start, how to drive a sled, how to do a track walk, skeleton maintenance and runner care.

Itinenary highlights include: skeleton training, watching international training, sprint training, 4-item test and push training.


Here's what was at the bottom of every page sent by the USBSF:


I am.

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.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Meet Jay Beckner

Quick Facts

-I was born in December 1978 in Bowling Green, KY to J. David and Beverly Kaye Beckner. I have two siblings, a younger brother and sister.

-I grew up playing lots of sports, but focused on golf. I earned 5 varsity letters and a 1996 State Team Championship at Bowling Green High School.

-I attended Transylvania University on athletic (golf) and academic scholarships and earned a BA in Chemistry with a minor in Business Administration (B+ average).

-Following graduation in May 2001, I went to work for Hilliard Lyons in Louisville, KY as a Financial Consultant (stock broker). On the heels of a tough market environment in 2002, I went to work for National City Bank in January 2003 and remained there until life got a bit more interesting the next year...

Alaska Bound!

In April of 2004, tired of the grind and not exactly sure what I was working for, I packed up my life, sold my car and bought a one-way ticket to Alaska. I was sure that I didn't want to be one to dream of adventure, but never have the courage to seek it. After a short stay in Seattle and a two day ferry ride from Bellingham, Washington, I disembarked in Ketchikan with eyes as wide as the stampeders’ heading north during the Klondike Gold Rush. It was a cold rainy Sunday morning and I didn’t have a place to stay, but that didn’t depress my desire to explore. Under the weight of a heavy pack, I walked downtown and found most of the buildings still boarded up, deserted, laying in wait for the hoards of tourists set to descend on the First City. I had gone north thinking I'd earn money in the fisheries, but I quickly learned that the commercial fishing business wasn’t what it used to be and tourism offered some equally interesting opportunities. After just a few days in town, I found work as a Pilot’s Assistant with Family Air Tours, a one floatplane/ one pilot company.

It was a very introspective summer; I looked for answers on the floatplane docks, out in the wilderness of Southeast Alaska and in the pages of classics. The epitome of my thoughts that summer came early on in this journal entry:

"5/7/2004 2:40pm
As I sit here, nearly atop Deer Mountain, batting away the bugs, without shirt or shoes, among the snow drifts, listening to a quiet wind, breathing clean air with a hint of cedar, under a partly cloudy sky blue heaven and above the cruise ship laden tourist town, I reflect back on a week of exhilaration, loneliness, self-exploration, self doubt. Am I making good choices? Simultaneously, I read this passage from Dickens' Great Expectations:
That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.

I think back over my life, but find few events, people or things that continue to bind me. After all, I am sitting atop an Alaskan mountain with very little responsibility waiting on me at the rock’s base. What I do remember are mistakes that I have made, harsh words that have made me gentle, people I love who make me care, successes, have there been failures? I’m gaining some life perspective. Still trying to understand what makes me tick. You really can feel something up here. I keep looking around for the burning bush. Maybe when I descend I’ll have a long gray beard and long hair and the clarity of understanding and purpose—maybe not."

At season’s end, I took the long way home aboard trains in Canada and the United States. I expanded my horizons through travel in Europe (England, Scotland, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France) that fall. I continued to meet people along the way who were eager to share their experiences and listen to mine. I believe it is through that kind of interaction with the world that I began to learn my place, reaffirm my values and gather the focus necessary to chase down my dreams.

Following a short bout with unemployment, I returned to Alaska in April 2005 to lead mountain bike tours for Sockeye Cycle in Skagway. It was another great season, but in a different way. The inward focus that was a necessary part of the 2004 season began to turn outward. I was passionate about entertaining the people on my tours; I felt it was my duty to put on a good show, honored to be part of their Alaskan experiences. I shared some great times with close friends including treks to Laughton Glacier and Goat Lake, hiking the 33 mile historic Chilkoot Trail, the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay and complete domination of golf in the Yukon Territory.


On December 31, 2005, I moved back to Louisville, KY to pursue an MBA at Indiana University Southeast on a Graduate Assistantship.

Finding Skeleton: Passionate Pursuit of the Unknown... Again!

People ask me how I got the idea to pursue Skeleton in the first place. I usually just say that I saw it in the Olympics last February and simply decided to do it. That's true but the reasoning goes deeper. I think subconsciously I'd been searching for something that I could really wrap my mind around and give my absolute all. Although I’ve always been a good athlete, I've never really known my true athletic potential. At age 27, I don't have much time (although the Skeleton Gold Medalist in Torino was 39) to find out. I believe I found the confidence to test myself against the best through a lifetime of sports and competition coupled with my travels/ growing experiences during the last couple years. Like seeking adventure in Alaska, I don't want to be one that looks back and wonders, could I have done it?

Also, I have pondered since 9/11 ways that I can represent my country. I admire the symbolism of the Olympics and those dedicated athletes who give their all for the love of sport and country. I am an emotional person and am moved by the successes that result from heart, passion, creativity and hard work through adversity. I have really come to respect those who act courageously/ selflessly/ righteously because it is their duty as a soldier, firefighter, teacher or family person. I want to be another positive success story that embodies some of these qualities and ideals. I recognize that the journey is what it's all about, but I'm also focused on the prize. I believe the Olympic journey is not only about becoming the best athlete you can be, but also striving for excellence in all aspects of your life.

What Exactly Is Skeleton?

Skeleton is a winter sport in which competitors aim to drive a one-person sled in a prone, head-first position down an ice track in the fastest time. This differs from luge, where the rider drives the sled from a supine, feet-first orientation. Top speeds attained in skeleton—approximately 130 km/h (80 mph)—are slightly slower than in luge. This Olympic sport is known in some parts of the world as tobogganing. It takes its name from the stripped-down sled, which originally was a bare frame, like a skeleton. There is also a theory about the name that it is a mispronunciation of the Norwegian word 'kjelke' which signifies sled or luge.

Skeleton is the oldest competitive sledding sport. It originates from St. Moritz, Switzerland, where in 1884 the Cresta run was built by Major Bulpetts. When the Winter Olympic Games were held there in 1928 and 1948, the event was included in the program. Skeleton was added to the Olympic program beginning with the 2002 Games.




Here is an excerpt from the Time Magazine article entitled, "Altius, Citius, Fortius!" which was published February 16, 1948:

"On the fifth day, a heat wave hit St. Moritz, forming pools of water on the Alpine rinks. Looking angrily at the sunny sky, Olympic Games officials called off several events. Not until the seventh day did anyone try to toboggan down the whole length of perilous Cresta Run.

Among those who ascended to the starting point high above the village was a local boy, a sturdy, tough-looking Italian, Nino Bibbia, whose father runs a fruit& -vegetable shop in St. Moritz. Nino lay down on the iron framework of his toboggan, crash helmet in place, and shoved off. His "skeleton" (as Alpine tobogganers call their steel-runnered sleds) slithered dangerously down the famous ice chute, whose turns have sporty names like Scylla, Charybdis and Battledore.

Bibbia roared into Church Leap with his face a few inches from the ice, steering with his body, breaking & banking with his spiked boots. For a fleeting second, he could see the white panorama of St. Moritz, and directly below—extending a sinister invitation—the village cemetery. One false move would put him in it. A few yards further, he roared into a sharp right turn, had no trouble until his skeleton sled went too high into Shuttlecock. With a desperate jerk, he brought it down. Said he afterwards: "I still had two fingers of space between the edge of the bank and the runner of my skeleton—that's just enough." An inch more and he would have crashed. Six times he made the descent of Cresta Run's spine-tingling ice path, to win an upset victory and Italy's one Olympic gold medal.* Average time: 5:23.2 (average speed: 42 m.p.h.)."

Journey To The 2010 Winter Olympics

Welcome to Jay Beckner's push to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Jay is embarking on a journey that most athletes dream about but very few make a reality, becoming an Olympian. Jay's goal is to make the U.S. Skeleton Team. He passed the first test -Push Camp- on August 27th, 2006, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid New York. His performance there earned an invitation to the next step, a seven day camp -Skeleton School- back at the OTC in November.

In subsequent posts, Jay will present information related to the sport, training, personal information, expenses etc. Please check back daily to get updates on his progress and financial needs! -LVG