Posted: Friday October 7, 2011 6:59 PM

Bobsled, skeleton and luge ready to start training

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It'll feel like summer in Lake Placid, N.Y. on Saturday and Sunday.

For the U.S. bobsled, skeleton and luge teams, winter starts Monday.

The first training runs of the season will take place down the refrigerated sliding track at Mt. Van Hoevenberg on Monday morning. Despite unseasonably mild air - temperatures are expected to reach the mid-70s in the Adirondacks this weekend, about 20 degrees warmer than normal - workers have been able to build ice at the track for the past several days.

"We finally get the chance to do what we're in this sport to do,'' said Elana Meyers, a 2010 Olympic bronze medalist in women's bobsledding. "All summer long we're training and running and lifting and just doing the physical aspects. I play video games to try to prepare my driving, but once we actually get on the ice, that's when it's actually real. It's when everything we've worked for all summer becomes real. It's exciting.''

Some aspects of training are already in the books. USA Luge held start championships Friday night at its indoor ramp in Lake Placid, with Ashley Walden claiming the women's title for a record 10th time, Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall winning doubles for the third straight year and Tucker West taking top honors in the men's race.

Lake Placid is typically one of the first tracks in the world to open for the season. A few teams - including a handful of American athletes - have gotten some on-ice training done at Calgary, Alberta for the past few days, and a number of European sliders are expected to begin their ice work at Lillehammer, Norway starting early next week.

Heavy snow fell earlier this week at the other track American sliders call home in Park City, Utah, where the 2002 Olympic sliding events were held. But in Lake Placid, none of the white stuff is expected for some time, and forecasters say even nighttime lows won't be dipping anywhere near the freezing mark for at least the next couple weeks.

"It's really weird to think that after a perfect day on Sunday we'll be on ice the next day,'' U.S. luge athlete Chris Mazdzer said.

For bobsled and skeleton, it shapes up as an especially important year because the world championships will be held at Lake Placid in February. Luge's World Cup season starts in Austria on Nov. 26, and bobsled and skeleton begin there the following weekend.

Over the first few days of sliding, most athletes are busy testing various setups on their sleds and simply getting reacquainted with the ice.

Monday will bring a double-dose of excitement for Meyers, who was a brakeman at the Vancouver Games and has since switched to the driver's seat. For starters, it's her 27th birthday. Add the first day of ice to the mix, and it's easy to see why Meyers is already eager to get going.

"I have a lot of confidence that some really great things are going to happen,'' Meyers said.


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