Cassie Hawrysh


MY Great Perhaps

Our week in Königssee, Germany was a lot like the track: tricky and quick – but full of lessons. Joining up with 8 of my teammates and our head coach was a pleasant change of pace and made for many nights of dinner laughs and even a couple team-adventures. Team Canada Skeleton might look different as a whole, and in our bank account – but the same amazing individuals with their unique personalities never cease to bring a special Canuck flare to every stop on tour at every level of this game.

Okay, so in case you didn’t know, Königssee and I have only met one time before (read about that HERE) and thus, it really came as no shock that training was anything but a cake-walk and that racing would require some precise timing and perfectly weighted steers or all I would be winning was a loss of time. 

The first of the double-race stop came early the morning of November 28th. With my sled weighted and rebalanced properly, (thank you Willi Schneider) Run 1 push felt okay (my foot has been increasingly more sore as this trip progresses) but the run itself felt better than any of my training runs have all week. It was faster than I'd gone as well. Unfortunately, I still didn't have the timing in a few sections and all those little areas combined left me sitting in 13th.

7th off in run 2 and unfortunately my push was not quicker. With the pain localized in my heel  - my foot strike on the ice is suffering - I have been compensating by running too angled and going away from and coming back towards the sled as I run beside it. But that aside, the run itself was actually even better. And, the time was too. Unfortunately, but as could be expected, one of my competitors within my first run wheelhouse had a better run ... so, I fell one spot. 

As an interesting fact: there are currently a number of WC sliders racing on ICC and as such, the top of the field each week provides an excellent challenge! That being said, Russian – and 2014 Olympic Bronze medalist: Elena Nikitina set the start record run two .... and then crashed out of Kriesel, losing her sled; ending in a DNF. While Austria's Janine Flock was sitting in 2nd and had similar problems to Nikitina and crossed the line on her sled but in 12th.  This is the beauty of our sport – anything can happen!

MY results were only enough for 14th place. Which was, as you can imagine, was once again a tough pill to swallow, but I knew there was one more day.

I would like to point out that I did manage to take away a number of positives and I know it's going to take many small steps to get back to where I know my performances should be. The sled felt better and that was a big, big help. The saddle and I still don't agree in all ways, and likely there need to be a few more modifications done in the long run, but I knew that it’s a manageable factor until such a time that it can be addressed. 

The morning of Race #3 (the 2nd race in Königssee) arrived bright and early, and as I ate my hard boiled eggs, lunch meat and yogurt, I promised myself to forget everything behind me and just be present that day.

Run 1 felt better (than any other run had) – but – and yes, this was getting uber irritating by this point, the time wasn't any better in comparison to the field and I was sitting 13th. Again.

I regrouped and decided to discuss some areas that were still giving me grief with some teammates, my coach, and coaches from other counties and trusted that there was still hope for me to piece together a solid run.

Run two – finally was significantly better; I could feel it. Crossing the line Phrixus and I were over 6 tenths better, in fact. But … because it was the first time I had finally put together a sequence of corners through the top portion of the track I was actually going fast -and thus the Kriesel corner came at me a bit different. I believe now (in hindsight) that I could have trusted myself and my sled and we would have come out fine but I reacted with a bit of fear and smooshed myself/ Phrixus’ right bumper into the right exit wall - which turned into a skid through what is called the doodles (huuuuge mistake) and ultimately lost me any subsequent time or placing. I retained my spot. Someone moved ahead of me after. And another girl lost her sled. So, this time, I ended up: 11th – which was still an improvement!

To be entirely candid, these last two weeks have been hard: hard on my confidence, hard on my brain and even harder on my body. Yet, the fact remains that this is about me, my sled and us together rediscovering our speed and flow  (however that needs to happen) – so while I, of course, maintain higher short and long-term goals for myself – I really do continue to make those small steps ALL in the right direction of success.

Team Canada made quick work of dropping two of our WC sliders off at the Munich airport so they could fly home and got ourselves to Winterberg, Germany as quickly as we could. 

The owners of the Waldhaus Hotel welcomed us with open arms, as they have for years – and we all settled in for another week.

Sliding and training only take up so much time during tour and often this means other distractions are needed. A good book can often fill this need. It has been my experience that a potential exists in all literature, if you let it, for the perfect words literally to cross your field of view right at the exact moment. For me, thanks to a book one of my teammates lent me to read while we were here: Searching For Alaska by John Green I found some words of my own. On her recommendation, of it being an easy read, I embraced our week in Winterberg of: wifi-access-in-the-lobby-only and hunkered down and devoured the book.

I won’t Coles Notes this paperback, as you should just go read it for yourself, but I will say that the main character has an intense fascination with people’s “last words”. As such, French Renaissance writer, Francois Rabelais’ are his favourite. While there are a few different accounts of Rabelais' death and of his last words, according to some, he wrote a famous one sentence will: "I have nothing, I owe a great deal, and the rest I leave to the poor", and his last words were "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." 

The protagonist of Searching For Alaska, really takes this to heart, and decides that he doesn’t want to wait until he dies to go in search of his own “Great Perhaps”. Instantly, I connected with this thought process. I considered the countless stories and memories, the ups, the downs and the in-betweens that have all been constructing the detailed chapters to my personal chronicle and like a light bulb in my mind – I become conscious that that’s exactly what this (my career as a Skeletor) has been and will always be – the continuous pursuit of MY Great Perhaps.

So – here we are. 

Another week of training at another track compete, bringing us to another night-before another race …  more words on one of my many pages.

The pursuit continues.

I would like to take a quick moment to acknowledge that it’s all too likely that my texts and emails of late that I have sent to my coaches and loved ones have been difficult to read. You are all too far away to hug, and yet too close to me emotionally to not feel your own empathy for my frustration. I want to say Thank you! And that all your words and positive vibes are true perfections! But I should take a second and also say, “I ADORE WHAT I DO!” because I know my wordy recounts and dramatic emotion filled paragraphs can be dark. The truth is, no matter what has happened - there has still never, NEVER been a time that I haven’t wanted to push on. Every single day I wake up and tell myself, “Today, today I will make another – no matter how big or small - positive change.” 

And I* do. (*You ALL just make it that little bit easier.)

Tomorrow: ICC Race #4 – Winterberg, GER: Phrixus will wear number 7 and I will wear a smile.

Inhale your dreams; exhale your fears,

-Cassie Elise

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