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How I Sled into Bobsled and the Olympics (Part 2)

How I Sled into Bobsled and the Olympics (Part 2)

This month’s CORE theme is Pilates for Athletes. Each week we’ll be featuring a story from the Athletes’ perspective and the influence Pilates has made on their lives.

There I was, and my intro went something like this.

“Ok, Pete, you’re the brakeman. You need to memorize the track, turns left and right, etc. There are 19 curves. Oh, and you need to brake before the final curve to slow us, then release through the turn and brake again for the finish… got that?”

We unloaded the Bob in the car park and practiced running on the spot and loading into our two-man Bob. We had a couple of walk-off practice runs to test the course and Nick to practice his race lines. It was a jolly ride, electrifying BUT…I felt like a tourist, and it felt nothing like what was to come.

Everything was so surreal. Prince Albert of Monaco was just one of the jocks with us in the changing rooms. Huge, lean, loud athletes were getting psyched up with menacing tones and movements.

“I can do this. I’ve played London 1st Division rugby, I can bench press 170 kg, I know how to slap myself around the head, build the tension and adrenalin and get into the right mindset… erm… right?”

Next thing I know…

“Bob in the track.”

We’re at the start line, cowbells are ringing, people are cheering, and the cameras are on us. Oh yes, and my heart is beating out of my chest. “Just don’t slip, don’t screw up the loading, push for your life!”

Nick and I roar, and off we go, yelling and pumping those legs. Hundreds of sharp pin spikes on our soles catching the ice. Oh yes, and Nick’s feet kicking up too high behind him and slicing my hands to boot. Too much adrenaline to care!

I’m in; I didn’t slip! I loaded smoothly, kind of!

BUT…

Then my inner rookie tourist revealed himself.

It feels like we’re moving pretty slow, trundling along. Almost boring. Nick had said to load, keep my head down, stay still and centered, and grip for dear life. This isn’t what I expected, so I lifted my head for a peek-a-boo…..BANG!

We had just entered a corner, and my head hit the side of the Bob. Rookie.

Ok, stay down. But then more silence and trundling, one more check? BANG!!! Stupid rookie that hurt more. A minute in a Bob can feel like an eternity.

It all suddenly changed. The taps of the Bob against the ice walls reverberate through you, the whooshing noise is loud, and the shaking of the Bob is aggressive. Oh no, now it’s suddenly a white knuckle ride.

Then just as suddenly, it’s a quieter and smoother ride, briefly. I partially relax but realize that I’ve totally lost count of the turns through the experiential commotion! Are we approaching the end?

Out of the blue, it hits. We are in the horseshoe, apparently. I feel immense pressure, I can’t breathe, and we’re high on that wall. We are shot out of it like a bullet, bashing walls side to side. Please don’t let us crash! Where am I?

Over the shearing noise, I hear Nick screaming… but I can’t hear the words. Yes!! He must have seen the clock, and we’re doing pretty well. He must be elated! (How can a novice with no experience and without 1000’s of practice runs and pushes behind him get a good time!!)

The reality? We are approaching that last corner, and Nick knows that if the idiot behind him doesn’t brake, we may well flip over.

He was actually screaming, “Brake you F%^$£*&er braaaaaake!”

Oops, I didn’t, and by a miracle, he got us through the corner. Was that it?? Oh No.

Check out this little clip of a great glute exercise on the A2 reformer to help with a little push!


Pete Pallai is a two-time Olympian, Balanced Body Master Instructor, Lululemon ambassador, and studio owner of myPilateslondon. Follow him on IG @mypilateslondon.

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