The assembly of a lifetime: no extra, no much less. For athletes in basic – however much more so in the world of snowboarding – an Olympic race just isn't trivial, because you by no means know if you'll compete in one once more 4 years later. Unlike the ski world cup which lasts all winter with the potential of making up for it from one weekend to the following, the Olympics are a distinctive alternative, in the literal sense, not to be to fail. Which brings its share of strain, particularly when the monitor on which all the things is performed is unknown to everybody. So how do you greatest strategy an Olympic race on an unknown monitor?
Olympic downhill champion in 2006 in Turin, Antoine Dénériaz prefers to be frank: “I don't know if there is a miracle recipe”. Let's go case by case, due to this fact, to higher perceive: “Thirteen months before the Games, I tore my cruciate ligament, he remembers. For a year, I only focused on this race. That was the leitmotif of my recovery: I wanted to be strong for the Games. It was the goal of my life.”.
For this, absolutely the precedence of the French descender was then to arrive in prime bodily form: “All the parameters have to be met on D-Day. A little help from fate is not too much either. Material level, you have to put all the chances on your side too”. Crowned big slalom world champion final yr in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Mathieu Faivre has no recipe to suggest both: “Even if I had two titles at the 2021 Worlds in Cortina, I also very often had poor performances in one-day races”, smiles the Isola 2000 skier.
Brilliant in the World Cup however by no means a medalist on the Games, Luc Alphand confirms: “I don't know how it's done. I've been to the Games three times without winning any medals, always being in a good position (laughs). The best thing is to arrive with confidence, having had good results, it's the best preparation for the Olympics“Except that the strain of an Olympic assembly can change all the things, for good or for unhealthy.
“Mentally, you have to be stronger than others to handle the pressure you put on yourself, it has to be positive to help you be more focused, faster. It shouldn't be paralyzing pressure.”Antoine Deneriaz
at franceinfo: sport
“It's a balancing act: I told myself it's the race of your life, don't miss it. And the next day I told myself that there are plenty of people who live well without being an Olympic champion, so If you can't do it, it doesn't matter”, reassures Dénériaz, “You have to give yourself the right to make mistakes: be thorough, tell yourself that it's a race that can change everything, and at the same time put things into perspective”. Especially for the reason that Olympic context and its over-mediatization don't assist. “The atmosphere is different, less relaxed than at a World Cup”, acknowledges Faivre.
Even if this yr the pandemic context adjustments the state of affairs a little, recollects Alphand: “It will be more confidential. They will be able to stay better in their bubble. That's what eats you too: the public, the media, you make a big deal of it. You keep telling yourself that it's the Olympics whereas it must remain a race like any other”.
But then, how to hold the skis on Earth? Everyone agrees on a primary rule: don't change your habits. Especially not for the superstitious, even when some are working on their tocs, as Mathieu Faivre confides: “I stopped the little rituals because I understood that it had no impact on performance. It can reassure us, but it's ephemeral, impalpable, superfluous. I put the left shoe first, a pair special socks, a precise mask. All these things came to pollute the essential which is to ski”. Like the skier from Isola 2000, the French group is skilled sufficient to handle this anyway, recollects the director of the Blues, David Chastan: “On a one-day race like the Olympics, everything is open.“
“It's not necessarily the best skier who is an Olympic champion, but being an Olympic champion changes an athlete's life”.David Chastan, director of the French alpine ski group
at franceinfo: sport
What to take into consideration beneath the helmets. And there, two sorts of skiers are revealed: those that collapse, and people who fly away, like Antoine Dénériaz in 2006: “I had this chance to live well under pressure when I felt strong and I had a chance to win. It hasn't happened 50 times in my career unfortunately. You have to put the right pressure on yourself and demystify the thing “.
Luc Alphand remembers an instance from his time: “In the descent of the Sarajevo Games in 1988, the American Bill Johnson won. He was unknown a month before, but he won the Games, then he won two races behind. And then nothing. He knew a period of euphoria, of fire, right on the Games, then disappeared”.
Once in the gate, Olympic Games or not, the game stays the identical. However, it stays to launch the handbrake, warns Dénériaz: “At the Games, you have to take all the risks and accept that it might not work, that you might make a mistake. If we accept that, we give ourselves the right to win”. The secret of the 2006 Olympic champion? Visualization: “I had recovered the images of the track. I studied the videos to such an extent that I visualized the track with my eyes closed. It became instinctive, it was reassuring. I arrived at the Games having the impression of having done the track ten thousand times”. Problem: in Beijing, the athletes will uncover the monitor three days earlier, barely.
“We didn't have time to think about the World Cup. We did everything. We don't know the track, we've never seen the layout, we're going to discover everything there. It's a a bit out of the blue, but we're adapting.”David Chastan, director of the French alpine ski group
at franceinfo: sport
On very chilly synthetic snow, it is not going to solely be crucial to tame the reduction and the format of the monitor on D-Day, but in addition to tame the very specific native snowpack. Nothing to fear about Mathieu Faivre: “It's not the first time that we're going to discover a track before the race. At the 2021 Worlds in Cortina, it was the first time that I skied the track. And I managed to do well. Indeed, when you do not know the track, when you discover snow as special as that which awaits us in Beijing, you have to know how to adapt, let your instinct speak and what you have learned over the years.“.
And if there's nonetheless a little an excessive amount of strain on the tricolor shoulders, Antoine Dénériaz lightens this burden a little extra: “Very great champions have exceptional careers without having been Olympic medalists, and vice versa. Less strong runners made this move. I am the example“.