Road to Sochi: An Olympic blog, part 2

Alpine skier Rokas Zaveckas: On catching the Olympic spirit two years ago, his secret fears, containing his excitement, and his friends

From sportas.info; Translated for The Lithuania Tribune
Rokas meets friends from the FIS camp at a race in Germany.
Rokas meets friends from the FIS camp at a race in Germany.

Rokas Zaveckas will start the men’s Olympic alpine skiing events on Feb. 7. This is the 17-year-old’s second Olympic blog post, “the Road to Sochi.” Read part 1 here.

After the holidays at home, my dad and I got back on the road. I started races in Austria and Germany.

Like always, on the eve of the competition, we discuss our expectations, and which tactics to use. Should I put all my effort into the first run, or would I get too tired, should I risk more on the second, and so forth.

EXCITEMENT

Usually I don’t feel excited. Fear can enter the start house when you have to wait a long time, and there isn’t anything else to do but wait. I go into my head and think about things I shouldn’t, like what if I mess up a turn like someone else did and so on. Therefore, we try to estimate closely how much time I will need to get up t he mountain so that before the start I’ll have “tip top” time to do my warm-up, exercises, put on my skis, and start. So that there won’t be any pauses.

Before the start we talk with the other skiers—I’ve got quite a lot of friends. From the FIS camps, and just people I know. But of course, my closest friends are in Lithuania.

With the guys from other countries, mostly we communicate in English. At the international camps there can also be Russian speakers, so I try to speak some Russian.

Before I spent quite a lot of time training with the family of the best alpine skier in the Baltics, Kristaps Zvejnieks from Latvia. But since I’ve come back from my injury, somehow we don’t manage to train together.

PSYCHOLOGY

My injury, because of which I missed all of last season, was hard—I tore my cruciate ligaments and the meniscus was gone.

I don’t feel fear because of the injured knee, but I think, somewhere deep it’s there, because when I analyze my training videos I see that on turns where my leg is more loaded, I’m cautious, not so strong. But it will pass.

It’s a psychological thing. Although somehow I’ve fallen out of communication with the sports psychologists. I feel strong enough, before the start my dad and I manage the anxiety, we know what it takes to have a system. My father, he’s not only my psychologist, but also my primary coach.

OLYMPIAN

I’ve already participated in the Olympic Games. Of course it was at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2102, which were held in Innsbruck. It went really well. I did the best in slalom, in which I was 24th.

Therefore, we are called Olympians. I felt the Olympic spirit. I carried the Lithuanian flag during the opening ceremonies. Everything was really well organized, so we spent two great weeks in Innsbruck. I didn’t just compete, but I also watched other competitions, and participated in various events. Only very late did I realize I’d be able to go, and could grasp what was happening, because everything happened very fast. Now, of course it’s different. Even though it’s very similar.