Natalie Coughlin

Local athlete training in Calgary in the sport of skeleton

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local athlete is trying her hand in the sport of skeleton and is enjoying her new sport thus far.

Natalie Coughlin, who has a background in gymnastics and track and field, is now training in the sport of skeleton after being recruited by Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton over the summer. Coughlin watched the 2018 Winter Olympics from PyeongChang, South Korea and became intrigued after hearing about the RBC Training Ground during the coverage.

The 22-year-old Amherstburg native signed up for it and went through two rounds of testing in Waterloo, Quebec before being recruited by Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton.

“I did a training camp with them and I had to do more testing to hit their standard,” she explained.

Now that Coughlin has hit their standard, she is able to train out of Calgary where she has spent most of her time the last few months. She will soon be training in Whistler, British Columbia and may also train later in the season in Lake Placid, New York. All tracks have been used in the Olympics, she noted.

Natalie Coughlin is back in Calgary, where she trains in skeleton. She will be heading to Whistler, B.C. soon as well.

“Any track we go to is very historic,” said Coughlin.

Coughlin said she enjoys adrenaline sports, stating “there’s nothing else like it.” She said it is a sport that many have to try out before knowing for sure whether they like it and some find out they don’t when they go to the top of a track. However, she is enjoying herself so far, stating her gymnastics background comes in handy.

“It’s more of a body-awareness sport so gymnastics helps me that way,” she said. “When sliding you have to know where you are and what to do to compensate. You steer with your head, shoulders, knees and toes.”

Most rides take about one minute, Coughlin stated, and the highest speed she’s reached so far is 110 km/hr.

There is little to no opportunity to train locally, as tracks are only built for the Olympics, so she has to go out west to train. She still calls Amherstburg home when not training, but envisions moving to Calgary full-time to train.

Training includes four to five times sliding down the track and working with weights and on sprinting in the “Ice House” in Calgary. Expenses for trainees are covered by the athletes themselves, including equipment that has to be ordered from Germany.

“It adds up,” Coughlin said of the expenses.

The eventual goal is to be an Olympic athlete with Coughlin stating that could take six to eight years. In the meantime, she will try out for the national team in September and look to compete in the North America Cup, which includes Calgary, Whistler, Lake Placid and Park City, Utah.