Kazakhstan's leading skier, World Championship bronze winner Nikolay Chebotko is at the final stage of his training. He shared his training plans and Sochi Olympic goals with Vesti.kz.
"I am in good shape. My condition is normal. I would even say it is very good," he said beginning the interview.
Question: Who are you working with?
Answer: The coaching staff is led by Vladimir Sakhanov, a famous Kazakhstan skier. He is the chief coach of the Kazakhstan National Team. And Viktor Vasilyev is my personal coach. Together with these two experts we put together my training plan based on my current condition and the distances that I should run.
Nikolay Chebotko. ©vesti.kz
Q: Speaking about snow you mean training in Europe?
A: Yes, the initial stage of the training was held in Austria. There, at 3 thousand meters above the sea level there is snow all year round. The place is called Ramsau. Then we moved to Finnish Muonio for some natural snow. We stayed there for a whole month "rolling" the ski-run. All this was on natural snow in the flatland, there were no mountains and elevations, but there was a real winter weather, that didn't yet come to Kazakhstan at that point.
Q: Why did you choose these places? Is such a sharp change of places and heights good for training? Can this harm your health? How do you restore yourself during such competition marathons?
A: I think it's OK. The correct approach is what matters, and being careful while traveling. The will be no proper training without traveling, because the weather conditions appropriate for training came to very late to Kazakhstan this year. Besides, Kazakhstan always gets the snow much later than the northern Europe. That is why we go there to start training on snow earlier. Besides, we are used to traveling all the time. We are always changing countries during competition seasons and nobody is experiencing any problems because of that. It is like going to the office every day for you with the only difference that our 'office' is in a new place every time. The key to recovering is a good night's sleep. If you don't sleep at night, you can't run the next day. The time when when I used to be nervous and shaking before competitions is long gone. Recovering is simple: the right diet and time to sleep, and the next day you can go the distance.
Q: What is your distances of choice?
A: Sprint and team sprint. Then 15 kilometers, any style, it doesn't matter skating strides or classic techniques. There is no big difference for me how to run it. I feel comfortable with any style. I can run 30 kilometers, too, but I need additional training for it. However, it is impossible to embrace everything, so it is better to specialize. But I can run any distance, except for 50 kilometers.
Q: How long is a skier's sport career age in your opinion? How old are you feeling yourself?
A: If you are asking about my plans to finish my career, I don't have such plans. I need to complete this season and then we'll see. Skiing is a sport where it is too early for me to think about ending the career. At least I can handle five more years.
Q: You are in good physical shape for the competition, but what about the technical part?
A: We don't expect any difficulties. We have a full service team with us. They will handle the technical part of our skis. Besides, we are procuring skis directly from the manufacturing plant. They will be exactly matched to our parameters: height and weight.
Q: Skiing tournament is one the most intense competitions of the Sochi Olympics. Who do you consider your main rival?
A: There are a lots of athletes, and countries, and teams. We are relying on team sprint. But even in this competition 10 teams are clearly capable of winning the medals - all the Scandinavian countries and half of Europe. With some luck each of this contries can win. There are some leaders, of course. They are Norway, Switzerland and Russia. But others can flash as well, like the Americans or Canadians for example.
Q: What do you think about Sochi's tracks?
A: We competed at the World Cup in late January there. The track was very difficult, plus it's middle altitude. Fresh snow is falling all the time. And there is lots of snow. I can't tell you how much exactly, but the snow banks stand taller than I am. Two meters high. I think. I believe that track is going to be very difficult. Imagine, the temperature is at around 0°С, warm and snowing... A very exotic weather for skiing. We need to go there in advance to prepare well. But I don't think they will let us probe the tracks.
The stars of Kazakhstan national skiing team Alexey Poltoranin and Nikolay Chebotko. ©vesti.kz
Q: Does the Kazakhstan national team have any traditions or rituals that they observe before the competitions? Or do you?
A: No, our team doesn't have any. Every skier approaches the competitions in his or her own way; skiing is not a team sport. I am not superstitious so it doesn't matter to me which leg I put on the track first. And I don’t pay any attention to small things like to shave or not to shave before the race. There is only one secret - training, lots of training.
Q: Doping issue has being quite acute lately. Are their pestering you with tests?
A: I am tested once a month during each training camp. Last time they came to my home. It is a part of competition and we are used to it. I view it as a rule that must e observed, everyone is doing their job. And there should be no place for doing in sport.
Q: Can your favorite sea-buckthorn juice can be classified as doping, too?
A: Of course not. I always bring 20 liters of sea-buckthorn jam to every trip. We use it to make a fruit-drink. It is a very healthy and tasty drink.
Q: How do you spend you time between competition seasons? Have you got any hobbies?
A: I go home to my family, my two kids. Concerning hobbies, I like fishing and hunting. I also like to play billiards, tennis and volleyball. And in winter we play hockey. I'm very happy that when children see me running my distance they want to be like me. This makes ski racing more popular. When I was young I saw legendary Vladimir Smirnov ski and this inspired me to go skiing. I'm glad that now I can be the example.
The 2012-2013 season was pretty successful for Kazakhstan skier Nikolay Chebotko. He won a bronze medal at the World Championship in Italy in the team sprint with Alexesey Poltoranin. The Sochi Olympics will take place on February 7-23, 2014.