What do you know about the sport of skeleton? You probably are aware that it’s extremely fast, we think of it as the face-first adventure on ice, but that likely taxes your general knowledge on the skeleton. Let’s take a moment to change that by catching up with US National Team member, 2022 Olympic hopeful, and maple loving all around good guy, Austin Florian.
Let’s start at the top, how did you get into skeleton?
I got into skeleton during my junior year of college at Clarkson University where I was a member of the alpine ski team. I would make my schedule to have Tuesday and Thursday off from class so I could head down to Whiteface in Lake Placid and train all day, then slide skeleton at night. It was a lot to keep up, but very worth it.
You’re a busy guy constantly on the go. Where have you travels taken you recently?
Currently I am in Whistler British Columbia for a training camp. From here we head to Lake Placid, NY for our first two World Cup Races of the season, then after Christmas we will be in Europe for the whole World Cup season through the world championships in March in Germany.
You mentioned being at Clarkson University. How do you balance a World Cup schedule with academics? What’d you study, by the way?
I graduated Clarkson in 2016 as a mechanical engineer and was not racing skeleton seriously until after I graduated. Once I graduated I committed fully into skeleton the season right after graduation. Currently I work in Connecticut at Kaman Aerospace in my offseason as an engineer.
Screaming down an icy track, face first at 80mph sounds… invigorating! How do you describe that sensation to people who ask?
It’s an absolutely amazing sensation, going down an ice track at 80 plus miles per hour and pulling 5 Gs of force is like nothing else in the world. While all of that is happening your face is inches off the ice, and most of the time you are driving blind because you are unable to pick your head up to see. Driving on ice at highway speeds purely by feel is something that cannot be replicated and is one of the best things I have ever experienced.
What are your goals for 2020 and beyond?
As of right now my goal is to make it to the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. I’m in a good spot right now but there is still plenty of work to be done to be ready to compete on the biggest stage with the best in the world. I had a good showing last year at world championships, but I would still like to continue improving to the ultimate goal.
Let’s wrap with a fun one: Who is one person you’ve always wanted to see go down the track on a skeleton sled?
I’ve always wanted to watch my sister slide because I think the entertainment value would be high.