Author Topic: Random memories from a life well lived  (Read 2180 times)

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Jayzelady

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #60 on: March 18, 2019, 12:38:36 PM »
This is what a trip down the bobsled run looked like in 1980. The rider calls out the curves.

Halfway down is Shady. At the end of that straight a way is little S, 12 and then zigzag.

My last run down in 1980 we rolled over gently in the second part of little S. I got away from the sled as we slid through 12 with the sled on its side. Coming out of 12 the pushbar snagged my clothes and the bobsled beat the shit out of me on the straight away before zigzag. I remember telling myself to relax and go limp.

We were doing close to 80mph when we rolled over. Our sled weighed 660 pounds. The other 3 guys weighed close to 600 pounds. I was 153. I was going down feet first on my stomach and could feel my clothes starting to melt and burn I was on the wrong side of the sled going into zigzag. The sled slid up on top of me and crushed me into the lip that you see above the curve in the film. The sled kept going and I dropped down into the belly of zag and came to a stop.  I rolled onto my back. For a split second I had 1200+ pounds on my back. I remember it getting very dark.

I couldn’t move my arms. I had a scratch across my goggles where the push bar tried to skewer me through my head. My clothes were literally smoking. The nylon track suit had melted.

I had crushed both ulnar nerves and had 3rd degree burns on my left elbow, 2nd degree burn on my right elbow and 3rd degree burns and lacerations where my hip bones had taken the brunt of the weight in Zig.

I made a few attempts a few days later at pushing the sled on the hockey rink in Lake Placid and I still firmly believe I could have competed in the Olympics. We had the fastest push starts on the mountain and we had just rented the fastest sled in the US to use in the Olympics. I am not sure if the entire decision making process but I think my driver lost his nerve or my coach wanted our sled for his brother to use. If it had just been a case of me being injured they could have replaced me. But no one on my sled competed again.

My hands were paralyzed for about 18 months before the nerves finally regenerated. Maybe I should have taken up Team Handball and went to the 76 Summer Olympics.




BTW - if I hadn’t reinforced the camera mount and put a strap and duct tape over the brackets that CBS used to get this footage they would have lost a very expensive camera and we wouldn’t have this footage.

WOW! Just WOW! Scares the crap outta me just watching. 😳

GravitySucks

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #61 on: March 18, 2019, 12:49:04 PM »
WOW! Just WOW! Scares the crap outta me just watching. 😳

I had competed in the four man for 5 years and drove the two man for 4 1/2 years. Mostly at Lake Placid with a few trips down St Moritz practicing for the World Championships in 1977. I would estimate that I had between 2500 and 3000 trips down the run, maybe 700 as a driver. I won races on the 4 man with at least 4 different drivers over the years but Billy was my primary driver and the guy I trusted the most.

I was only in two accidents. Both as the number two man on this Air Force sled.

The first accident was brutal as well. We stayed in zig too long and flew upside into zag. This is a picture of us going around zag with the driver unconscious. It was a hell of a ride. When we fell off of zag we came back down on our runners and went the rest of the way down without a driver. I tried but couldn’t reach the ropes with Billy passed out on top of me. 
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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #62 on: March 18, 2019, 12:52:22 PM »
I had competed in the four man for 5 years and drove the two man for 4 1/2 years. Mostly at Lake Placid with a few trips down St Moritz practicing for the World Championships in 1977. I would estimate that I had between 2500 and 3000 trips down the run, maybe 700 as a driver. I won races on the 4 man with at least 4 different drivers over the years but Billy was my primary driver and the guy I trusted the most.

I was only in two accidents. Both as the number two man on this Air Force sled.

The first accident was brutal as well. We stayed in zig too long and flew upside into zag. This is a picture of us going around zag with the driver unconscious. It was a hell of a ride. When we fell off of zag we came back down on our runners and went the rest of the way down without a driver. I tried but couldn’t reach the ropes with Billy passed out on top of me.

I didn’t take this picture but I was standing right next to the photographer as she took it. This is Zag.  This is one of the East German sleds during practice for the 1978 World Championships in Lake Placid.
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Jayzelady

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #63 on: March 18, 2019, 01:04:24 PM »
I had competed in the four man for 5 years and drove the two man for 4 1/2 years. Mostly at Lake Placid with a few trips down St Moritz practicing for the World Championships in 1977. I would estimate that I had between 2500 and 3000 trips down the run, maybe 700 as a driver. I won races on the 4 man with at least 4 different drivers over the years but Billy was my primary driver and the guy I trusted the most.

I was only in two accidents. Both as the number two man on this Air Force sled.

The first accident was brutal as well. We stayed in zig too long and flew upside into zag. This is a picture of us going around zag with the driver unconscious. It was a hell of a ride. When we fell off of zag we came back down on our runners and went the rest of the way down without a driver. I tried but couldn’t reach the ropes with Billy passed out on top of me.

Watching these events on tv will be a whole different level for me since hearing your first hand accounts. Glad you made it with your life and all body parts still attached! Thank you for sharing such awesome memories, Grav!

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #64 on: March 18, 2019, 01:13:00 PM »
Watching these events on tv will be a whole different level for me since hearing your first hand accounts. Glad you made it with your life and all body parts still attached! Thank you for sharing such awesome memories, Grav!

I finally crushed all my PTSD over that whole episode and made myself go down the bobsled run at Whistler in Canada in December 2017. If we would have had the designs of the sleds like they are built now I never would have been injured. They wouldn’t let me drive but I rode number two.

On one of my computers I have the video from that run. If I can find it I will upload it to YouTube and post a link. We started somewhere around curve 7 if I remember correctly but we will went about as fast as our top speeds at Lake Placid. I didn’t enjoy it much but I am glad I did it in order to put that demon to rest. They have 4 tracks in North America now. Whistler, Calgary, Park City Utah and Lake Placid. The whole bottom half of Lake Placid has been redesigned. It seems much safer now.

I just looked it up. Seems Calgary closed down their run.
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anniem

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #65 on: March 18, 2019, 06:01:33 PM »
Never been to Michigan. 
Last summer we took a trip to Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Defiance--amazing view of Lake Champlain.
We would travel to Savannah for Saint Patrick's Day fun.
-Fort Rucker, Alabama for a graduation ceremony
-Fort Polk, Louisiana for a graduation ceremony.
I guess I like to visit Forts.

Been to Fort Ticonderoga. 45 years ago

anniem

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #66 on: March 18, 2019, 06:03:37 PM »
GS, this thread is fantastic!  Outstanding.  Thank you.

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #67 on: March 19, 2019, 11:52:01 AM »
This is what a trip down the bobsled run looked like in 1980. The rider calls out the curves.

Halfway down is Shady. At the end of that straight a way is little S, 12 and then zigzag.

My last run down in 1980 we rolled over gently in the second part of little S. I got away from the sled as we slid through 12 with the sled on its side. Coming out of 12 the pushbar snagged my clothes and the bobsled beat the shit out of me on the straight away before zigzag. I remember telling myself to relax and go limp.

We were doing close to 80mph when we rolled over. Our sled weighed 660 pounds. The other 3 guys weighed close to 600 pounds. I was 153. I was going down feet first on my stomach and could feel my clothes starting to melt and burn I was on the wrong side of the sled going into zigzag. The sled slid up on top of me and crushed me into the lip that you see above the curve in the film. The sled kept going and I dropped down into the belly of zag and came to a stop.  I rolled onto my back. For a split second I had 1200+ pounds on my back. I remember it getting very dark.

I couldn’t move my arms. I had a scratch across my goggles where the push bar tried to skewer me through my head. My clothes were literally smoking. The nylon track suit had melted.

I had crushed both ulnar nerves and had 3rd degree burns on my left elbow, 2nd degree burn on my right elbow and 3rd degree burns and lacerations where my hip bones had taken the brunt of the weight in Zig.

I made a few attempts a few days later at pushing the sled on the hockey rink in Lake Placid and I still firmly believe I could have competed in the Olympics. We had the fastest push starts on the mountain and we had just rented the fastest sled in the US to use in the Olympics. I am not sure if the entire decision making process but I think my driver lost his nerve or my coach wanted our sled for his brother to use. If it had just been a case of me being injured they could have replaced me. But no one on my sled competed again.

My hands were paralyzed for about 18 months before the nerves finally regenerated. Maybe I should have taken up Team Handball and went to the 76 Summer Olympics.




BTW - if I hadn’t reinforced the camera mount and put a strap and duct tape over the brackets that CBS used to get this footage they would have lost a very expensive camera and we wouldn’t have this footage.

@GravitySucks - WOW this video is amazing. It gives me a view and sound of riding in a bobsled.  The rider calls out the curves.  Who is giving out the calls? The one in the front seat is the driver? Does the heaviest person sit in the last seat? I have rode in a toboggan with at least 5 people. We would arrange seating according to weight and skill. Fly off a toboggan is not fun. Thinking back to the story of Ethan Frome and Mattie.  It sounds like your “smash-up” almost killed you. You must believe in FATE at this time in your life.  This smash up has changed your life. Life has a way of breaking us up into pieces. It is want you do with the pieces that has meaning.

FISH

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #68 on: March 19, 2019, 11:56:28 AM »
Been to Fort Ticonderoga. 45 years ago
@anniem  - Hello! Yes, @GravitySucks  has some amazing stories. I really enjoy reading his story. I always read the stories and I watch the videos. I have lived my life well. However, my stories are more about the people in my life.

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #69 on: March 19, 2019, 03:01:17 PM »
The person you hear on the sled calling out the curves was a no name CBS journalist from Albany if I remember right.

A four man team comes together as a blend of speed and strength. For 5 years in a row my team had the fastest push starts.

The driver is usually a brakeman (last guy in the sled) that has gotten enough experience and decides to start driving. They can usually do ok pushing from the side unless they have gotten old and fat.

This wasn’t the case for my four man driver. He had never rode the sled in competition. He worked at the bobsled run and learned how to drive before he went into the Air Force. He was a good driver but he smoked, ran like a duck and couldn’t whip any of my three sisters. But he could drive a fast 4 man sled. We would have him help us get the sled started and jump right in.

Then we pushed like hell. I had several different team mates over the years but by 1980 the first 3 on the sled had been on the team together for 3 years. The brakeman by the theory is supposed to be the biggest and strongest and hopefully the fastest. In 1980 my coach had found an officer that had been on the track team at the Academy.

I was always having to compensate for my size and prove myself every year. I was only 5’9, 153 but starting in the tryouts for the 1977 US team I was always in the top 9 pushers and always the top number two man. I had a knack of knowing exactly how long to run and when to get in the sled while I was still pushing. If you wait too long the sled is pulling you. I never once missed getting into the sled. We practiced a lot on flat ice. We would take our sled down to Mirror Lake and cut a groove in the ice with a chainsaw. Then we would push back and forth and practice jumping in. This was great practice because if you weren’t all pushing as a team the sled would come out of the groove and start skidding.

After each race we would have to stand on the scales with our equipment. The weight limit to the four man and team was 1387 pounds. There were years when our sled by itself weighed over 670 pounds. We would bolt weighted bars in under our butts to get close to the max weight.

By the end of each year I could pick up the front or back of our four man sled and walk with it. At the beginning of the year I was probably stronger but didn’t quite have the core strength to walk around with that much weight.

Our team was always the smallest, lightest team in the US but we were also the fastest.

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #70 on: March 19, 2019, 03:49:34 PM »
@GravitySucks - WOW this video is amazing. It gives me a view and sound of riding in a bobsled.  The rider calls out the curves.  Who is giving out the calls? The one in the front seat is the driver? Does the heaviest person sit in the last seat? I have rode in a toboggan with at least 5 people. We would arrange seating according to weight and skill. Fly off a toboggan is not fun. Thinking back to the story of Ethan Frome and Mattie.  It sounds like your “smash-up” almost killed you. You must believe in FATE at this time in your life.  This smash up has changed your life. Life has a way of breaking us up into pieces. It is want you do with the pieces that has meaning.

@FISH

The wreck really did change my life. I had been taking some college courses at night in the summer and fall but I always had to skip the spring semester to compete in Lake Placid. That summer I decided if my hands were paralyzed I better work on my brain. I started going to classes at University of Nebraska at Omaha to finish my degree in Computer Science. I took every CLEP test I could and every weekend class I could from SIU and any nearby college. Some semesters I took over 20 hours at night and on weekends. 

I needed one more 300 level Humanities class for my degree plan. The only one available that fit my schedule was one that was a physics/humanities class that was funded by NASA called “Philosophy of Space Exploration”. I took it pass/fail thinking it would be a blow off class for me. I became enthralled with it.

Until I moved to Texas between my Junior and Senior year I went to the same high school as Eugene Cernan. While I was taking this class NASA was beginning to launch the Space Shuttle. It renewed the interest I had for wanting to work in the space program. I finished that class and decided I was going to do everything I could to work at Johnson Space Center. I finished my degree right when my enlistment was up.

I had a Top Secret/SCI clearance and turned down a lot of lucrative job offers across the US to go to work for McDonnell Douglas down at JSC. STS-4 was the first mission I actually worked on. That led to working for 33 years on a myriad of NASA programs but mostly Shuttle and Station.

I eventually recovered from my hands being paralyzed but I do still suffer from some neuropathy and nerve damage. But yes. That accident changed my life and career path.

And yes, I believe in fate. Don’t always understand it, but generally accept it.
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Jayzelady

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #71 on: March 19, 2019, 04:49:19 PM »
@FISH

The wreck really did change my life. I had been taking some college courses at night in the summer and fall but I always had to skip the spring semester to compete in Lake Placid. That summer I decided if my hands were paralyzed I better work on my brain. I started going to classes at University of Nebraska at Omaha to finish my degree in Computer Science. I took every CLEP test I could and every weekend class I could from SIU and any nearby college. Some semesters I took over 20 hours at night and on weekends. 

I needed one more 300 level Humanities class for my degree plan. The only one available that fit my schedule was one that was a physics/humanities class that was funded by NASA called “Philosophy of Space Exploration”. I took it pass/fail thinking it would be a blow off class for me. I became enthralled with it.

Until I moved to Texas between my Junior and Senior year I went to the same high school as Eugene Cernan. While I was taking this class NASA was beginning to launch the Space Shuttle. It renewed the interest I had for wanting to work in the space program. I finished that class and decided I was going to do everything I could to work at Johnson Space Center. I finished my degree right when my enlistment was up.

I had a Top Secret/SCI clearance and turned down a lot of lucrative job offers across the US to go to work for McDonnell Douglas down at JSC. STS-4 was the first mission I actually worked on. That led to working for 33 years on a myriad of NASA programs but mostly Shuttle and Station.

I eventually recovered from my hands being paralyzed but I do still suffer from some neuropathy and nerve damage. But yes. That accident changed my life and career path.

And yes, I believe in fate. Don’t always understand it, but generally accept it.

Growing up we were taught that “God works in strange ways”. What we call fate or coincidence may have been the right life plan for us all along. I think I do wish sometimes God would give us a little gentler nudge in that direction. LOL

Kudos to you, GS, for your accomplishments in a life indeed well lived! 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

FISH

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #72 on: March 21, 2019, 06:53:37 AM »
Growing up we were taught that “God works in strange ways”. What we call fate or coincidence may have been the right life plan for us all along. I think I do wish sometimes God would give us a little gentler nudge in that direction. LOL

Kudos to you, GS, for your accomplishments in a life indeed well lived! 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻
@Jayzelady , I also wished that God would give us a more gentler nudge as we find our way. @GravitySucks is living a well lived life.

FISH

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Re: Random memories from a life well lived
« Reply #73 on: April 10, 2019, 02:12:00 PM »
@GravitySucks , do you have new random memories from a life well lived while "Under The Milky Way"?