“Almost every time I talk to people in the mountains I get ‘the look’ for being from Mexico. I am already used to it."
Every time Arly Velasquez is on the top of a mountain and says where he comes from he already knows the immediate reaction. As the only Mexican Para alpine skier and on the way to PyeongChang, his second Winter Paralympics, he does not mind surprising people on and on again.
“Almost every time I talk to people in the mountains I get ‘the look’ for being from Mexico. I am already used to it. It happens so much that I am trying to figure out a way to be able to go skiing in Mexico. I hope I can achieve this dream one day,” said Velasquez.
While the plan is on hold, the Mexican is getting ready for the most important season of his career. Velasquez suffered a terrible accident in Sochi during the 2014 Paralympic Games and it has been a long recovery. Being back at the Games will have the lure of a medal.
“The surgery after the crash was very invasive. I had to stay in bed for three months and I had to stop skiing for one season. And I still have to do all the preparations as there is no real team to support me in Mexico. My plan now is for the first time race in the whole World Cup circuit in Europe and hopefully I will get some support to achieve and be in the best shape for the Games.”
To be able to achieve his goals, Velasquez moved from the USA to Europe as six out of seven World Cups will take place in the continent. During the season, Velasquez also wants to have time to watch some of his favourite skiers, especially a certain Japanese competitor.
“There are really good mono ski racers right now. Taiki Morii has always been my inspiration, I really love his way of skiing and I really like the atmosphere in the whole team even though I don’t understand a word of what they are saying. And the surprise last season was the young Dutch [skier], Jeroen Kampschreur. But there really are lots of amazing athletes that can win at any time.”
One thing Velasquez knows he will be doing for sure, no matter where he competes, is following the same ritual from his whole career. With his eyes closed.
“I always think of family, starting from my mother and sister, to whom I dedicate every race. And also think of my grandmother and father, who already passed away. I think of the way the laughed and danced. It really puts me in good mood. Then I also thank the mountain for protecting me and allowing me to get close to perfection.”
Then he stops and prepares himself for the part he enjoys the most.
“At this point, I just ask myself: ‘What time is it? Now. Where are you? Here (and then I open my eyes). Who are you? This moment. And I just go.”