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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 25, 2010

Team Black Ice rides for more than victory

By Saranac Hale Spencer

LAKE PLACID — On Sunday morning, Cory Mann, a wiry 16-year-old with glasses that sit on the middle of his nose, had eggs, bacon, sausages, toast, and muffins for breakfast.  His driver, Anthony Herringshaw, had cereal.

“I didn’t want to weight the sled too much,” Herringshaw says, a smile opening on his face as Mann rattles off the list.

His smile is quick, genuine, and ever present as he speeds down Lake Placid’s bobsled track.

One of only two in the country, the course was built for the 1980 Olympics in the place of the original track that had been used for the 1932 Olympics.  The course has been used for several international competitions over the years.

Last weekend, it hosted the 30th annual Empire State Winter Games, and the first competition for Mann and Herringshaw.

The pair live at the Northeast Parent and Child Society in Schenectady and go north to Placid every Friday to practice.  Ken Delong, the activities coordinator, and Bernard Lupi, a youth councilor, who make the trip every week, were at Sunday’s race, each with camera in hand.

“It goes a lot deeper than just the sport itself,” Delong said of what bobsledding means for the boys.

“It’s just me and the sled,” Herringshaw said of what’s on his mind as he navigates the course, which is done by pulling on ropes attached to the sled’s runners.

Mann straps studded soles onto his boots so that he can push the several-hundred-pound sled with a running start before he jumps in, crouches down, then pulls the break at the end of the quarter-mile track.

Their team, called Black Ice, averages between 50 and 60 miles per hour.

“It looks pretty well black when you’re coming through,” said Herringshaw of his fastest run and the origin of the team’s name.

Before taking off, frenetic rhythms get the boys ready to sled — Mann listens to Disturbed, AC/DC, and the Insane Clown Posse; Herringshaw listens to a song called “They’re Coming to Take Me Away.”

Mostly, Herringshaw said, “I try to focus on the track.”

After their first run in the competition, Lupi heads down the track to stake out a place in the heart, a curve on the course shaped like a heart, and points out a nearly vertical place on the course with the Olympic village’s name.  “The bobsled is literally drawing out the words Lake Placid,” he said of the way the sleds sweep over the name.

Each of the seven teams in their weight class speed by, the two helmets in each sled jostling.  Bobsledding got its name, about a century ago, because of the way the crews would bob from side to side to increase their speed, according to the International Bobsleigh and Tobogganing Federation.

Black Ice came in seventh on Sunday, with a time eight seconds behind the gold-medal winners.

“They were having a great time just sledding,” Delong said yesterday.  “They accomplished everything I hoped for them.”

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