Dad was told by mother, goes the clunky classic by Sinatra, you can’t have one without the other. And so it goes with a bobsleigh pilot and her brakewoman. A partnership as enshrined as Iceman and Slider (and yes I dabbled with Maverick and Goose but their story didn’t end well, besides which the former pair was so aptly named for bobsleigh). So Having featured driver Mica McNeill here last month, it’s only right to have a chat to her RIO (okay who votes for the immediate cessation of TopGun terminology?) brakewoman Mica Moore.
Team Mica recently completed their World Cup season, finishing 12th, and as a result were able to announce on Tuesday that they’re Pyeongchang-bound for next month’s winter Olympics. Of course the pair’s on-ice performance was only half the story, because for a time it looked like a sudden withdrawal of funding might have put paid to any Olympic aspirations before they got anywhere near the start line. Thanks to the Micas effusive and appealing on-screen presence though, a willing public dipped into its pockets and delivered the ultimate push start, and suddenly equipment, logistics and training budgets were in hand. Yes, the GB sliders are officially #poweredbythepeople and you’d better believe in the preceding hashtag because it’s a media campaign that will resonate right up to and throughout next month’s Games. Olympic qualification, you see, is not just about training hard. It’s a multi-faceted onslaught.
It’s a reality not lost on Mica Moore.
“Honestly, to reach the Olympics feels like a dream!” she enthuses. “We’ve had a tough year and it’s only made us stronger mentally. I’m also super excited to show all the people who supported us with the Go Fund Me campaign what their money has helped us to achieve.”
The endless trials and pitfalls on Mica’s road to Pyeongchang bring to mind a long slog, a bobsleigh journey which thus far has been something of a marathon. But when she tells you she’s a sprinter, Mica might as well be referring to a way of life as an athletic vocation because this Olympian, believe it or not, is a newcomer to sliding.
“I started Bobsleigh just one season ago,” she tells me. “I come from track and field and used to compete in 100 and 200 metres. I was having a few issues with illness and wanted to try something new. Judah Simpson, who was on the men’s team at the time, suggested I come along for trials. I did and was very successful. Next thing I know I was in a sled in Calgary!”
In the back of the sled to be precise, where Mica’s sprint heritage lends itself to the role of the bobsleigh’s main engine at the all important push start.
“Due to my attributes from Athletics, the power and speed I had really suited the role of a brake woman. And I’m not sure I would trust myself behind the D-rings.”
That role falls to the aforementioned Mica McNeill, and as you’d imagine the two are a close-knit team.
“Obviously Mica and me get on very well, we’re both very mischievous and love to have a giggle and joke but similarly both very determined sportswomen with the same goals, I think it makes us a great team. We’ve never fallen out – but from living we each other 24/7 we know when one another are hangry (past the point of hunger) or tired from a day of sledding.”
*adds hangry: adj to lexicon.
Accounting for the rigors of training, funding and competing, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Micas have witnessed their share of sports ups and downs. But what you might not expect, even though crashes come with the territory of bobsleigh, is that they’ve also shared the upside down. During the second run in the World Cup series at Altenberg, their sled tipped at a frightening speed, at one point rushing down the track inverted.
“I was just focused on staying in the sled as I know it’s the safest place to be – and make sure we got those valuable points,” Mica says. “I also wanted to make sure Mica was okay after, which she was. I think it made us both more determined for the following week where we placed 7th! I don’t let crashes affect future runs, I know these things happen in this sport, it’s a nature of the game when you’re trying to find the best and fastest line, so you have to push through the hard times and enjoy the good!”
Mica’s is a sport where a fraction of a second can overturn a result as quickly as it can overturn a sled. As a team they share the razor’s edge, but for Mica success also equates to something introspective.
“My definition of success would be setting your personal goal and achieving it. Sometimes I like to keep my goals to myself, going to the Olympics being one of them. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with working on your own goals as long as you keep a positive mental attitude!”
Harbouring one or two personal ambitions, however, does not inhibit Mica’s first rate counsel.
“The only advice I can give to someone working towards their dream is don’t give up easily,” she says when I ask what she would say to someone looking to make it as a top-flight athlete. “It’s hard at times and at times you’ll want to stay in bed, or go party with your friends, but honestly knowing you’ve achieved your dreams makes every hard session, every long day at the track and every day away from family and friends worthwhile. I like to watch a lot of Disney and a quote that I think helps me every day is one from Hercules: ‘I know every mile will be worth my while’!”
Well I don’t know about anyone else but I feel the need…the need for speed. Okay that is it. Promise.
My grateful thanks to Mica Moore for her time and boundless enthusiasm, too much of which likely rubbed off on me as I transcribed this piece, but what can I say.
The 2018 Winter Olympics start on the 9th February. Mica’s competition gets underway on 20th February. In the meantime you can keep up with Mica’s latest at the following feeds: