The online-newspaper “Magnitogorskiy Metall” published an interview with Valery Koshelev dedicated to the process of training the national Deaflympic team of Russia in alpine skiing. The team is training in the alpine-skiing complex “Metallurg-Magnitogorsk”. Athletes are improving their technique and remove psychological barriers on their way to the victory.
«The team was training in Kabardino-Balkaria in slalom, in short and long distances. Besides, we were participating in the Alpine Skiing Cup of Russia for hard-of-hearing athletes. Deaf athletes from Magnitogorsk were among the winners of the competitions. Alpine skiers were also training on Elbrus mountain, 4 000 meters above the sea level in conditions of oxygen deficit.
In Magnitogorsk the team was training in downhill and supergiant. The alpine skiing complex is the only place in Russia that has tracks for these disciplines. The skiers had an opportunity to participate in the national alpine skiing championships “Masters” that became the final rehearsal before the Deaflympics.
- The results of our team are very close to the results of healthy athletes,- says the coach of Russian team Valery Koshelev. – Ilia Ivanov from Magnitogorsk shows excellent performance, however the obvious leader of the squad is not defined yet. We are telling Ilia and Ruslan Shaykhutdinov that it would be very bitter not to win on their “home” slopes. Other alpine skiers came here from Saint-Petersburg, Izhevsk, Ufa and Teberda. The youngest athlete is 16, the oldest one – 46. There are no age limits in Deaflympics; even 90 year old athlete can participate in the competitions. Ofcause, ifthereissuchan athlete.
- How are the relationships between athletes?
- It was not easy for athletes to get used to each other. They were not having confidence in each other as well as in their coaches. All of them had their personal coaches before. In the beginning athletes were often consulting them and only then agree to do the task they were given. Now everything’s ok. We are a real team.
- Does a sign language interpreter assist you in communicating with deaf athletes?
- I’ve been working with hard-of-hearing athletes for five years so I’ve learnt sign language. I case I need to discuss some specific issues, I write them down on paper and a skier reads this. Or we are testing each other.
- Who do you think are your main competitors?
- Our team has a very little experience in participating in international competitions. We were competing with foreign alpine skiers only on the European Championships in Switzerland and the World Championships in Germany. This was a long time ago so we don’t know the athletes that will take part in the Deaflympics. Half of our team has also changed; the same situation is in other countries. The leaders of these disciplines are athletes from Japan, Czech Republic and Austria. What makes the situation more difficult is the rule that 4 athletes from each team need to participate in every discipline. We have 7 men and 5 women. So each man will compete in 3 disciplines. Ruslan Shaykhutdinov will participate in 4 disciplines,
It is to be reminded that the delegation from Japan was participating in the meeting of the Organizing Committee of the XVIII Winter Deaflympics that was held in the alpine skiing complex “Metallurg-Magnitogorsk” in December 2014. A member of the Deaflympic Committee of Japan Tadao Khayashi and a sign language interpreter Uchida Miharu have visited the hotels for deaf athletes as well as the Deaflympic tracks. Alpine skiers from Japan have received the detailed description, photos and videos of the sport venue. Besides, some deaf athletes are visiting the alpine skiing complex “incognito” in order to test the tracks by themselves. It’s possible to say, that the chances to win are equal; however, it won’t be easy for Russian athletes.
Some team members have been in alpine skiing only for a couple of years. As Valery Koshelev says, it’s the most important task for a coach to teach an athlete the technique of alpine skiing. In other countries deaf sport is more popular, even hard-of-hearing kids are learning how to ski. Ilia Ivanov from Magnitogorsk started skiing when he was 19. RuslanShaykhutdinovwasevenolder. Both athletes are looking forward to their success in the competitions, but not all our team members have such a strong motivation.
- We were working a lot on the psychological training of our team, – concludes Valery Koshelev. – In the past athletes were asked: «Do you want to win a medal?» and he answered: «I don’t know…» Now the team feels very determined. Its psychological conditions are very good. We’ve no right to lose, this is our track! Our friends and relatives will be supporting us here on the track, not just watching TV. The program of the training is followed without any failures. We had a lot of difficulties training in other place, but not here in Magnitogorsk. The only thing that worries us is weather. We have all other conditions needed for the victory ».