The 100-day countdown to the Sochi, Russia Olympics was marked this Wednesday. The Sochi Olympics will be held from February 7 to 23, 2014. They will quickly be followed by the Paralympics, March 7 to 16, 2014.
Kimberley’s Josh Dueck will be at those Paralympic Games, his second Olympic experience after winning a silver medal in Vancouver in 2010.
Dueck, who spoke to the Bulletin from the Banff Mountain Film Festival, where he is hosting a couple of events this weekend, says he is in a different place than he was entering the 2010 games, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel he can compete with the best in the world.
“Am I a contender? Yes and no,” Dueck said. “The last couple of years, I’ve struggled to have that same feeling with the snow and the mountain. But right now I’m trying to get mileage on the snow and I am having the feeling of connecting with the mountains.
“In 2010 I was on a roll. I was winning big races, and I’d won the World Championships the year before. I was having my first experience of success on the big world stage.
“In a very different way, I’m feeling as good as I was then. I know I can be a contender as long as I’m having fun. I truly believe I belong with the best in the world.”
Dueck is just back from Switzerland where he spent late September and early October getting some time on a glacier, training and equipment testing.
Olympic-level athletes train on a four-year cycle, Dueck says, with years two and three being the most intense and then tapering off in year four so one doesn’t peak too early. Dueck committed to the Sochi Games not long after Vancouver and says he’s not ready to quit yet.
“I won’t quit because it’s fun and I love it. I’m just going to get as many days as I can on the snow, and keep it light.”
Dueck has skied a test event on the Sochi course and he thinks it sets up well for him.
“It’s a challenging, technical hill. There are very steep sections at the top to build speed and there are steep parts with a big jump at the bottom. That’s in my favour. I’m pretty comfortable in the air.”
Dueck, who became a paraplegic after a skiing accident in 2004, says there is no comparison to the feeling he gets when going fast.
“The faster I go the slower the world seem to go. It’s like it goes by in slow motion. I don’t have the opportunity to get that experience any other time.”
Dueck plans to compete in the full complement of races in Sochi. He won his medal in the Slalom in Vancouver, although prefers the speed events such as the Super G and Downhill.
His racing season gets underway at Panorama in November, and then it will be up to his coaches to decide what events he races. He hopes to be in Kimberley for the NorAm races just prior to the Paralympics, but his coaches may think he’d be better off racing in Europe just before the Games.