Pole vaulting takes a specific sort of athlete. The discipline requires speed, timing, a good bit of upper body strength and more than a little nerve. Ladycat athlete Laurel Todd is taylor-made for the event.
Todd has spent most of her childhood on the walls and rocks of the Front Range and Estes Park. She is an accomplished competitive rock climber. She seemed to her coaches to be just the sort of athlete who could make the leap, so to speak.
“For a long time, Coach Soviak wanted me to do it because a lot of climbers go into pole vaulting,” explains the compact, muscular Todd. “A little girl on my climbing team, her dad is the pole vaulting coach at Above the Bar. He told me if I ever wanted to try it, I could go downand try, so I eventually did.”
Above the Bar is according to their web page, an “Elite immersion pole vaulting camp and club” in Boulder. Head coaches Pat Manson and John Carmony run the place and take athletes like Todd and, apparently, make them champions. It’s not a wave of a magic wand sort of thing, however. There is a good bit of work involved.
“Any team that has a team and wants more practice, you can go down there and they’l help with whatever you want,” says Todd. “As we don’t have a pit, I thought I’d go.”
That is an important point. Estes Park High School has no pole vault pit. Todd did not see older kids vaulting. Liability in recent years has made vaulting an expensive prospect. This requires some dedication.
“I am supposed to go down to Boulder on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, then I ran track the rest of the time, and in the mornings on the days I did go down,” Todd laughs. “Except, it snowed a lot, and you can’t vault if it’s snowing, so I went whenever I could.”
She’s continuing her workouts, twice a week for three hours at a time. There is so much technique involved that the state’s number three vaulter still hasn’t hit her stride.
“The practice goes by fast,” She explains. “The hardest is remebering every single thing. Every time I go they say something like ‘You need to tuck up your hips’ and it is so hard to multi-task.”
She Continues, “You can’t time everything. You have to bring the tip of the pole down at the exact same time that you’re jumping and the exect same time as you’re looking forward and then you’re bringing your hips up and there’s just way too much to think about.”
Todd has plenty of room to grow and time to think, as she has only vaulted a year and still has her senior season to look forward to. As the summer starts she is vaulting and looking forward to her fall and winter climbing, as well as possibly reaching a little higher in the vault.
“I just really want to work on it,” Todd explains. “I know that once you get really high, once you get the technique down, then you can start using your strength a lot and master the trivialities of the sport. I haven’t gotten to that point yet. So I want to master the technique.”
With a smile and a giddy laugh, she adds, “I want to win state. Winning state would befantastic.”
With the dedication and ability Todd has shown so far, a gold medal doesn’t seem very far fetched. keep an eye on this athlete as she vaults skyward nest season. She may be the next rising star for the team.