“My dream is to have a hat trick of three gold medals in slalom, because I won the last two World Championships, so it’s my dream.”
After only competing in the Europa Cup last season, Slovakia’s Jakub Krako is back in full force, racing against the best at the IPC Alpine Skiing Europa and World Cups, hoping to set his mark at the World Championships next month.
Krako may still be young at 22, but he has already competed in two Paralympic Winter Games, garnering three gold and one silver medal at Vancouver 2010.
The visually impaired skier still has his peripheral vision, which means he turns his head slightly to see his guide, creating huge challenges on the slopes.
“Because I have to look out the side, my balance changes,” he explained. “The turning transfers to the skis and I start the brake.”
This season, Krako is gearing up for his third Paralympics with a new guide, having parted amiably with his guide of 10 years, Juraj Medera.
For the past two seasons former able-bodied skier Martin Motyka has guided him. Though the pair got off to a troubled start, Krako hopes they will make a winning team at Sochi 2014.
“It was difficult at first because Martin wasn’t used to skiing like the guides,” Krako said. “He was a racer and he wants to be the best, and I had to explain that I have to be faster, not him. So he has to be as fast as I am and get used to going slowly.
“Now it’s perfect because he’s really calm, and it’s good for me.
“Off the slope, we are like one.”
Currently, Krako is ranked first in the world among all visually impaired skiers in the downhill event, third in the slalom and super combined and fourth in both the giant slalom and super-G.
The two-time slalom world champion is looking forward to the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, Spain from 20-27 February, which will be a key indicator of form ahead of Sochi 2014.
Although the Slovakian will compete in every discipline this season, his favourite is the slalom, and he hopes to excel in the event in La Molina for a third time.
“My dream is to have a hat trick of three gold medals in slalom, because I won the last two World Championships, so it’s my dream,” he said.
He accepts that the competition this season is tougher than ever and so he has tapered his goals to be more realistic, though.
“My goal was to win the gold medal in the World Championships, but now it’s changed,” he said. “I’m trying to do my best and I hope there will be some medals.”
After La Molina, Krako’s attention will turn to Sochi, where he will check out the Paralympic slopes for the first time at the sport’s test event in March. One of his strongest opponents, Russia’s Valery Redkozubov, will compete against him there.
“They will try to win a lot of medals, but I hope I will be better,” he said of the Russians.
At Vancouver 2010, his biggest rival was Canada’s Chris Williamson, who Krako thinks was overwhelmed by his home crowd.
“His mind was blocked when he was at home,” Krako said. “You have to have a balance in the brain and body. It wasn’t good for him.”
Whether his Russian rivals outdo him or not, there is one thing that Krako has no doubt about.
“I think it will be one of the best Paralympic Games ever because it’s with the Russians, you know. They are proud that they will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, so I think it will be a great presentation and they will try to do their best.”