“I don’t follow or look at anyone to get motivated. I’m the one demanding more of myself each day and the one establishing my goals, which are always a bit higher than the last challenge accomplished.”
Heading into the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, Spain, all the pressure was on host nation favourite Jon Santacana.
The visually impaired skier, a three-time Paralympian, entered the Championships in his prime, with the crowd ready to see him go down the hill at 100km per hour nearly blind behind his guide, Miguel Galindo Garces.
To kick off the Championships, Santacana sped to gold in the downhill in just 1:25.14, taking the crown in the same event he won gold in at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
The following day, he finished just one second ahead of Canada’s Chris Williamson to win the super-G, and then he added another gold to his bag with a first-place finish in the slalom.
He failed to medal in his other two events – the giant slalom and super combined – but three golds was more than enough to warrant applause from the crowd.
“After winning five medals at the previous World Championships we arrived to La Molina with the goal of getting the same results or even better ones,” Santacana said.
“The pressure of competing at home and two errors in the slalom race were the reasons why we didn't make it five for five. However, winning three golds confirmed that we were in a good shape and it was very moving to be able to do it at home with our people around.”
Santacana, also a keen surfer and mountain biker, has been racing together with Garces for more than 11 years now. The duo insists their confidence on the slopes has grown tremendously since Vancouver 2010, and that’s what’s allowed them to succeed this past year.
“Jon makes everything easy,” Miguel said. “He is always motivated to race and he is always at 100 per cent when we race.”
“It’s very important to be focused when we are skiing,” Miguel said. “I have a lot of things to do when I ski with Jon – make the perfect path in the race, always have a good distance between us and speak to him during the race. All of these things happen in a few seconds, so it’s very difficult to keep everything under control.
“It was very special for me to win three golds in La Molina,” he added. “My family and friends were there and made me to be motivated. For us, it was very important show the Spanish people what we do on the slopes and how we do it.”
At the moment, Santacana has been sidelined until at least February after tearing his Achilles tendon during a training run at September’s IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup. But after his success in La Molina, he’s eager to get back on the slopes with the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games just around the corner.
He’s become his own challenger, devoting more than eight hours per day to his rehabilitation to get back to the form he was in during the World Championships.
“I don’t follow or look at anyone to get motivated,” Santacana said. “I’m the one demanding more of myself each day and the one establishing my goals, which are always a bit higher than the last challenge accomplished.”