Even with temperatures well above freezing, there was enough ice for the U.S. bobsled, skeleton and luge teams to start training Monday on their home track on Mount Van Hoevenberg.
Luge Olympian Tucker West took the first official run, with the air temperature around 50 degrees. Forecasts call for highs to reach the 70s in the Adirondack Mountains on Tuesday, though temperatures are expected to return to much more seasonable levels later in the week, with some snow showers possible by the weekend.
“Like usual, we are at the mercy of upstate New York weather,” said Erin Hamlin, the 2014 Olympic women’s luge bronze medalist and 2009 world champion. “It’s always nice to be in familiar territory for a bit.”
The World Cup sliding seasons are still more than a month away, but it’s a critical time for all three of the U.S. teams. Bobsled and skeleton national team trials are scheduled to start Saturday, and luge’s national championships are set to begin Oct. 28.
The track is refrigerated, meaning ice can be maintained when air temperatures are well over freezing.
“Everyone is really excited like the first day of every season,” said U.S. women’s skeleton racer Annie O’Shea, who was fourth in the World Cup standings last season. “The track is in really great condition. We really weren’t sure we would be able to slide today because it’s so warm, but of course (track manager) Tony Carlino and his crew got everything ready. We couldn’t be happier to be out here again for the start of a new year.”
Warmer air means softer ice, and softer ice means slower times. But for sliders, it was just good to be back at work.
“We had some pretty decent times,” U.S. bobsled veteran Steven Holcomb said. “It feels good to be back on ice. Summer is tough because you can’t do any bobsledding — it’s just weightlifting and sprinting and training and getting ready for bobsled season.”