Mirror Lake Inn employee aspires to the fast track on a skeleton sled
How Kaileigh Moore got from behind the front desk at Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa to the start of the skeleton course at Mount Van Hoevenberg is easy to explain.
“I always wanted to do it,” said the June 2012 Union College graduate. “Actually, my sister and I wanted to bobsled, but we lived in Saratoga and that made it difficult.”
That was a minor obstacle to Moore’s way of thinking. “I just wanted to be a brakeman (bobsled), but was told the way to go about it was to do the skeleton school.”
So last month, that’s exactly what the former Saratoga Springs High School and Union College distance runner did. The first step, however, was to get to Lake Placid. Two days after receiving her degree in anthropology and biology, Kaileigh moved to the North Country. She recalled her earlier days when her family would stay at Mirror Lake Inn.
“I loved the area,” she continued. “I wanted to live here.” So she landed a front desk job, with an apartment in the two-time Olympic village and found herself in the midst of what is, more or less, the Lake Placid Olympic theme park with the whole menu of winter sports just minutes from home and work.
Kaileigh spoke to a former hotel employee who now works at the Lake Placid sliding venue. After getting some good intel in the fall of 2012, she saw the Bobsled and Skeleton World Cup in early November, participated in the track’s Skeleton Experience for the public in December, enrolled in the four-day skeleton school and went through it in February.
Once on the course, she was a quick study in the art of sliding downhill, head first, eventually at 60 miles per hour. After mastering her runs from start five – the tourist start - Moore’s class began the school from start four, which covers the final 12 turns of the demanding layout. Clearly, she is no tourist.
Entering at curve nine and totaling 12 turns, the pace was quickened, and the bruises began to accumulate, especially on her unprotected arms and shoulders from the Chicane. This lower section of the course asks the driver to execute subtle direction changes. World class competitors have had some issues in the Chicane. For the inexperienced and less skilled, it usually means tapping some icy walls.
After a day and a half from this departure point, skeleton coach Don Hass moved the class further up the track to start three, stretching the run to 17 curves.
“The track really drops from this point,” Moore said, now from the comfort of the back office at the front desk. “It feels like you’re being sucked into a vacuum cleaner.
“From here, the Labyrinth (left-right-left-right section that comes to the racer in rapid fire) was tough on everyone,” she continued. “I never experienced ice burn before. You don’t know how bad it hurts until you experience it. But I didn’t hit in the Chicane. By the end of the four days, I knew what I was doing.”
All that remains for Kaileigh is to officially finish her skeleton education by taking trips from start one – the very top – bringing the track to one mile and 20 turns. Given her comfortable progression during the school, Moore is not irked by the extra length as the track is relatively shallow over the first three curves.
“Going off the top is probably similar to going from start three,” she stated.
The sum of all this, Moore said, is to try-out for the national team next season. But first there will be more sliding this spring during national team training sessions, followed by combined tests administered by United States coaches and trainers during the summer months. Some of the elements include sprinting and lifting, no easy chore for a distance runner who is in training for a half Ironman triathlon in August.
“It would be pretty cool to be in the (skeleton) development group.”
Until then, Kaileigh can be seen helping Mirror Lake Inn guests at the front desk with hiking advice and other activities, as well as conditioning herself by running through Lake Placid and around Mirror Lake.
It’s all part of the goal to make another transition next winter from the hotel desk directly to the top of Mount Van Hoevenberg.