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Olympic Skeleton: Taking Life Face First At 65 MPH

This past February, I spent a week at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY at a training camp for the US Skeleton program. If you haven’t heard of skeleton before, imagine sliding face first down the ice on a folding chair at around sixty-five miles an hour.

The sport got its name after its first participant crashed horribly and all that was recovered from the crash scene was his skeleton. Just kidding! The sport was actually named when someone commented that a new metal sled, first used in 1892, resembled a skeleton. Experienced sliders can experience up to 5 Gs of force on a run, which is equivalent to a Formula One car breaking under maximum speeds. Unlike Formula One cars though, the sleds have no brakes or steering. Needless to say, it’s quite the adrenaline rush. Here’s some footage from one of my runs:

How did I get to take part in this once in a lifetime experience?

I asked. Well, technically my friend Joe asked, then he told me over Thanksgiving dinner and I told him if he’d do it, I’d do it for sure. All it took were a couple of emails, a physical, and a trip to Walmart for a mouthguard and knee pads, and we were on our way to Lake Placid.

The entire trip (including travel) cost me less than $1000 and it included a week of accommodations at the Olympic Training Center, use of all of their facilities (including personal training and physical therapy), private coaching, equipment rental, all my meals, and a season pass to slide at the Olympic Sports Complex.

Need some motivation to work out a little harder in the gym? Try being around professional athletes for a week. Everyone was so impressive, yet extremely down to earth and ready to answer any questions and teach us about the sport. I learned a great deal about recovery, rehabilitation, and training for speed in that week. It was like having a team of experts around me 24/7 to help me be the best athlete I can be.

I walked away with so much knowledge and perspective from my week long stay at the OTC. As I look back on this life experience several months later though, my main takeaway is:

All you have to do is ask.

Many unhappy people today are unhappy simply because they do not ask for what they want. They don’t ask for what they want from their bosses, spouses, parents, kids, friends, or co-workers. By not verbally expressing their desires, they ensure that they aren’t met, thereby creating resentment and bitterness.

Want more responsibility at work? Just ask your boss.

Want a little more free time to hang out with your guy friends? Just ask your girlfriend.

Want a clean house without clothes and trash everywhere? Just ask your roommate.

Want a free upgrade when you check into a hotel? Just ask the employee at the front desk.

Want to slide down the ice face first at 65 miles an hour, stay at the Olympic Training Center, and hang out with future Olympians for a week? Just ask.

Just beware of those ice baths.