Now that the Sochi Winter Olympics are over we may all have a better understanding of some of the winter sports we enjoyed following. In our little corner of the world, our family fell in love with the Skeleton event. The luge is impressive, the bobsled amazing...but going headfirst down a sheet of ice on nothing more than a small sled at upwards of 80 mph...well that is crazy...and has earned our respect!
This is why when we found a young woman from New Glouctier who is on the National Skeleton Development Program...we jumped at the chance to profile her. We traveled down to Sherri Emery's neck of the woods and had an amazing time trying out her sled and really getting to know this incredible woman who sports not only an ear to ear smile...but also a first-class attitude.
Here is our interview with Miss Emery:
DNA: Where are you from what are you currently doing with your life?
Miss Emery: "I am from New Gloucester, Maine and I am a skeleton athlete, coach, trainer, and student."
DNA: What made you get into skeleton and do you normally look for thrill-seeking activities?
Miss Emery: "I was introduced to skeleton in Lake Placid, NY. In 2006, I watched the Torino Olympics and decided that was what I wanted to do. It wasn’t till 2008 that I became interested in skeleton. I would say that I like some thrill-seeking activities and some activities that are pretty calm. I really enjoy activities like reading, tennis, and golf. I also jump at the opportunity to go exploring new places and try new things. I would like to become a pilot and a business owner."
DNA: What drew you to this sport the most?
Miss Emery: "What drew me to the sport was the ice. I’ve always loved the Winter Olympics more than the summer Olympics... maybe its because I grew up in Maine. I have always admired bobsled too. When I went to Lake Placid in 2008, it was to take a bobsled ride. I saw skeleton and wanted to be in an individual sport, so I tried it and like it.
DNA: How long have you been into the sport and how long have you bee associated with the National team?
Miss Emery: "I’ve been involved in the sport for 5 years but have only been competitive for two seasons. I am not on the national team, I am part of the development program. The top six athletes ranked in US Team Trials are named to the National Team."
DNA: How does one get on to such a team?
Miss Emery: "In order to be on the National Team I have to place within the top six athletes at US Team Trials in October."
DNA: Does this sport allow for you to travel a lot and how often do you get to travel for it? In addition to that what country has been your favorite so far?
Miss Emery: "The sport is all travel. There are only two places in the USA where I can train on a track. Lake Placid, NY and Park City, UT. So I can’t even train at home in Maine. All the other tracks are in Canada and Europe. So in order to get better, I have to travel to all of the 14 tracks. I’ve been to Lake PLacid, Park City, Calgary, Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Ireland all because of my sports travel. I just happened to stop in Ireland on the way home from one of my races.
Out of all those countries I would say Austria has been my favorite with Germany a close second. I am learning German and find their culture to be particularly interesting."
DNA: Where do you train for the sport and explain the facility for us?
Miss Emery: "I spend most of my training in Lake Placid, New York mainly because it is closest to home. Luckily in Lake Placid there is an Olympic Training Center where I stay. They have a gymnasium, cafeteria, housing, sports medicine, weight room, and lounges. It is perfect for an athlete to get stronger. The bobsled track in Lake Placid is a long tube of ice and concrete that twists and turns. I ride down it on my sled."
DNA: Have you ever competed nationally and how have you finished?
Miss Emery: "I have competed in national competitions and international competitions. I have recently claimed a bronze medal in US Championships and my best international placements was 6th in Lake Placid North American Cup Race."
DNA: How much control do you really have over the sled?
Miss Emery: "The control over my sled varies. It is made to bend around turns- so I press my shoulders or knees into it to steer it. I can change multiple variables to give me more grip on the ice by adjusting my runners (steel tubes that touch the ice) and the amount of arch in them."
DNA: Have you ever thought about the bobsled or the luge?
Miss Emery: "I thought about bobsled but wanted to be in an individual sport instead of a team sport. Luge was not an option to me, I really had no interest in it. I like the luge, but I do not want to be a luge athlete."
DNA: Where from here do you hope to go - what are your skeleton goals...and how close are you from reaching some of them?
Miss Emery: "My ultimate goal in skeleton is to make it to the highest level, which is the Olympics. But it is also much more than that. I want to get to that level because I’ve mastered the skills to be there. So in order to make it, I have to determine what my strengths and weaknesses are. Then I must develop my weaknesses, keep my strengths strong, and work some more on my weaknesses. This requires me to constantly question my thinking patterns, abilities, and goals to make them as efficient as possible. Right now I feel like I am in the middle. I am past just learning the basics but have not yet developed the advanced skills needed to consistently be on top. This is why training is so important."
DNA: When did you first fall in love with the sport and what did your family first think? 14 What has the sport brought to your life?
Miss Emery: "I first fell in love with the sport, probably this year. I think before this year I was involved just to go to the Olympics. Now I have a whole different relationship with the sport. I have more respect for skeleton and the challenges it shows. In order to be the best, I’ve realized (through many mistakes mentally, physically, and emotionally) that I can’t hide or ignore my weaknesses. Somehow they will show up and it will hurt my performance if I do nothing about it. That’s why I really love the sport, because it forces me to develop myself even if I don’t really want to see things for what they really are. It’s a great wake-up call."
DNA: What do you enjoy most of the sport and is there a skeleton community?
Miss Emery: "The skeleton community is very different from most communities because we are all competing for ourselves and our team. Sounds counterintuitive? Well it seems like it sometimes. I’ve come across people who try to intimidate me to see how it affects me. I don’t really think that’s good sportsmanship but some people may not see it that way. Also it’s hard to help your competitors, but it needs to be done. I believe in karma and if the person beating me needs help with something and I am the only one that can help them, so be it I will help, may the better athlete win. Withholding helps me only, but when I need the help-will they help me? I just hope other athletes have the same view, and I have been fortunate enough to find some. I would say the best part about the sport is finding out all the little things about me that I can improve. I am sort of a reserved person most of the time and like to find ways to make things better including myself."
***To find out more about Sherri or follow her adventures visit www.sherriemery.com.***