“For me like any visually impaired athlete the most important thing is to have an excellent guide.”
Slovakia’s super combined world champion Miroslav Haraus, with his guide Maros Hudik, are ready to defend and improve on their results at the upcoming 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Tarvisio, Italy.
With nine podium finishes across three World Cups, including three wins in slalom and super combined already in the bag from this season, Haraus is feeling confident.
“I will compete in all disciplines and will fight for best result in each one,” he said. “I want to reach the best of my skills regardless of whether it is in technical or speed disciplines.”
Haraus thinks that his previous experience at World and Europa Cups in Tarvisio will help him to perform at his best at the World Championships, which begins Sunday (22 January).
“Last year there were many World Cup races in Tarvisio, Italy, so I know this place very well,” he said. “I like this ski resort and it’s always fun to race on their slopes. Every time I was really satisfied also with the organisation and work of volunteers, so I think this World Championships will be great.”
The strength and partnership Haraus has with his guide is also evident.
“For me like any visually impaired athlete the most important thing is to have an excellent guide. We need to have a really good relationship, not only on the slopes, but also after training and races. Me and my guide, Maros Hudik, have great relationship. I know his family and we are good friends.”
The key to Haraus’s success has been having a really good coach. His trainers are Roman Petrík and Martin Makovník, with Makovník also being his guide for four years before Hudik took over.
“Each trainer should know the challenges faced by an impaired athlete and be able to empathise with them. I think they should also try a few runs with a guide and customised ski goggles to better understand how I feel.”
Although the familiarity of going to the same venues and slopes is a bonus, Haraus really enjoys exploring new things and places.
Every year he chooses a few different World or Europa Cups from the calendar to push himself to try new slopes and courses. Haraus likens himself to Alberto Tomba and Bode Miller, both former World Cup alpine ski racers from Italy and the USA respectively.
As the clock ticks down to the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, Haraus will be hoping it will be third time lucky. He is targeting his first Paralympic title after finishing second in the downhill at Sochi 2014 and claiming two bronze medals at Vancouver 2010.
“I’m already fully preparing for the Test Event [in March] of this season but I also have in my mind next year’s Paralympic Games which are really special for me because they are only every four years.
“But I have to say I’m not thinking about results [In PyeongChang]. I will try to do my best in training because this is the way to improve my results from Sochi 2014. My training for Paralympic Games will start in May 2017, and I already have my training plan from coaches and my guide ready.”
The Tarvisio 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships, taking place between 22-31 January, will feature 130 of the world’s best skiers from 25 countries.
All races will be livestreamed and live results will be available.