Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bobsleigh World Championships in St. Moritz

Jazmine at her home track in Lake Placid

As some of you already know, my cousin's daughter (Jazmine Fenlator) is a bobsled driver (or pilot) on the USA team. Facebook has allowed me to virtually follow her to competitions. I've even watched some of the races online. With the move here, I asked Jazmine for her competition schedule to see if we would be able to see her in action. We chose the location that made the most sense: St. Moritz. I know, you feel sorry for me, don't you? I took my suitcase with me to my German class and met Tom at the main train station afterwards. Together we were on our way to St. Moritz. It was about a 3 1/2 hour ride with only one transfer.The interesting thing about train travel is that no one helps you with your luggage. You also must be ready to get off when the train pulls into the station. The train doesn't wait for everyone to get off like you may be accustomed to with air travel. 

Jazmine told us which hotel the team would be staying at so we booked a room at the Laudinella too. We got to see her shortly after we arrived - the day before the competition began. 

Hotel Laudinella
The women's races began Friday morning. We took a bus up to where the races would start. Tom is equipped with binoculars. We had no idea what to expect. We were very close to the athletes - no binoculars needed. Jazmine was able to get passes for us from the USA team - a nice savings of 80 CHF.

the awesome mountain vista is actually a reflection in the glass

club logo etched in glass

The race venue:
Viewing stands right above the starting point. Jumbo-tron for viewing the sleds once they left our area and where times were posted.
Loads of sleds in bright colors.


#12 and 13 are USA sleds - Jazmine drives #13

Jazmine concentrating before the first run
sign for names of athletes and times - no video here



a bit of the track
After the first run, we went inside the club to warm up. Our toes and hands were REALLY cold. Then we walked the track to be at the bottom when Jazmine finished. Little did we know how long it would take to get down there. Obviously, it's not a flat walk and with the snow it was a bit treacherous. It was amazing to walk so close to  track (above is a coach, not a spectator like us) and both see and hear the sleds zoom past.

Jazmine's second run on the jumbo-tron
finish line - continue gliding uphill to stop

Two runs on day one are over. Jazmine, other athletes and their sleds were loaded into the back of this truck. At the end of day one, Jazmine was in 8th place.

We don't know if St. Moritz lives up to the hype because we didn't do much besides bobsled activities, but they were ready for fans to arrive. Many flags advertising the event hung around town.

Hotel Baren had a bobsled outside their building and a bakery had chocolate bobsleds with marzipan people for sale.

In the evening, Jazmine took us to the hotel garage to see the sleds up close and personal. She repeatedly called it a "blue collar" sport. The athletes all spend hours maintaining their sleds - especially sanding the blades. It is also the most expensive sport after equestrian because of the cost of the sleds and transporting them. We learned a lot about the sport.

sled interior - red and green are steering mechanisms
demonstrating the brakeman's position

at home in the driver's seat

driver and sled = pals?

For day two we were better prepared with hand and foot warmers bought after the day one races! I also went with my warmer hat - a huge improvement. I definitely had the coolest scarf of the Americans courtesy of Kim Adams. You can see we brought our trekking sticks which made the walk to the bottom so much easier. Beside me is a map of the bobsled track.

Fans of team USA!

fans sitting on the hill = comfortable? not!

Jazmine and Aja preparing for day two


I found this driver amusing to watch. She warmed up her leg muscles as she "drove" the course with her arms and her eyes were closed. Fun!

track Olympian Lolo Jones on left

The USA team had three drivers, but multiple brakemen. The two seated here are the alternates. If a brakeman can't race for some reason, they can be replaced. The drivers do not have alternates.

Day two begins:

jumbo-tron before the last run

All done - hugs after the last run at the 2013 World Championship.

 Leaders stand by the cup waiting to see if anyone can overtake them.

 Jazmine and Aja were overtaken. They finished 8th - an excellent showing.

Swiss Misses presented the awards

1 - Canada, 2- USA, 3- Germany
American silver medalists

that's my flag on the left!

After the award ceremony, another American athlete made a marriage proposal in front of everyone. How romantic!

After the races were over, we were able to have dinner with Jazmine. She is a lovely young woman and I'm proud to say she's part of my family. She seemed pleased to receive her own candy bobsled. Thanks Jazmine, we had a great time!