Injured and unable to prepare the big events of the season, Hana Hancikova reviews her career so far. As for the year that starts now, it's best to wait and see.
I would start by asking you to introduce yourself. Who is Hana Hancikova?
Hana Hancikova (H. H.) - I am a happy 28 years old girl who loves fun and people. I was born in Zlín, Emil Zatopek's home town. I attended the High School in Nove Mesto na Morave Ski Centrum to develop my skiing skills. I studied Physical Education and taught at the University of Masaryk, in Brno. I've been living in Falun, Sweden, for three years with my boyfriend. I've been working as a teacher and a coach but, from this New Year on, I'll be working as a masseuse. As for my hobbies, I really like to cook but I don’t like to wash the dishes.
When did you first strap on a pair of skis?
H. H. - My dad use to say that I was born with the skis on... Seriously, my parents took me and my sister, in the childhood, to take part in many different sports like gymnastics, tennis, ballet, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, and orienteering as well. I liked skiing so, the high school in the Ski Centrum Nove Mesto was the right choice.
What does skiing mean to you?
H. H. - I'm not good at running, my biking skills aren't good enough and skiing is fun. But, most of all, it couldn't be fun if you don't have so amazing people around you. I have chosen ski orienteering because I felt I was part of a huge family and to be closer to my boyfriend as well. The older I get the more I understand how little value have medals and what value have friendship and health.
How demanding is this discipline? How do you prepare mentally for a big competition?
H. H. - Well, this discipline is demanding in combination of good skiing skills with good map reading skills, which make this discipline unique. Unfortunately it’s more addicted on snow conditions than other snow sports. I don't like to train, but I love to compete. So I'm preparing precisely for the races. I usually write down my goal and plan on how to reach it.
Can you point the two or three best memories in your SkiO career so far?
H. H. - Well, I met many interesting people, travel all around the World and met my boyfriend on a Ski orienteering event.
What is your favourite place to ski?
H. H. - I love the Alps! Especially Ramsau, Austria, and Livigno, Italy. It’s perfect to skiing/roller skiing, both in Summer and Winter. But the most beautiful ski orienteering places are in Lapland.
Looking back to the last season, which were the best and the worst parts?
H. H. - The best part was that I managed to top my shape for the last European Championships. I was better prepared than ever. I found the right balance in my training and I had a really good preparing season. Unfortunately, I had some health problems which affected my results, experiences and memories from the event.
Do you feel “comfortable” with your 8th place in the World Cup overall standings?
H. H. - I would be more comfortable with a top 6 place (laughs).
We have a new season coming up now. How did you prepare it?
H. H. - I had a good training period in the Summer, with running and roller ski sessions, but then some more health complications came and I didn’t train for three months in the Autumn, so I started to train slowly again in November, on snow, with some map trainings. Unfortunately [in the middle of December], I fractured my right fibula. I will have my leg in plaster/cast for four weeks more, so my training and competition plans are moved for now.
I believe that your main goal still lies on the World Championships. What challenges are you looking for in Krasnoyarsk?
H. H. - If you ask me in the Spring I'll know the answer. Right now, it’s really difficult to say something about my expectations, because I have lost quite a big period of trainings and I will lose some more now with my injury. This year's ESOC and WSOC are in the stars.
I'm curious about the topic “MTBO versus SkiO in the Czech Republic”? Why are you so strong in MTBO and the same doesn't happen with the SkiO?
H. H. - It's actually quite easy to answer to this question. Shortly: you can bike everywhere in the Czech Republic the whole year but if you want to ski, you need to travel a lot and still it’s not sure that you get good conditions to do it. The National Parks' administrations are making it even more complicated. In the mountains where used to be snow, it’s prohibited to drive scooters in the forest. I actually start to train ski o after moving to Sweden. I was just skiing before and doing some foot orienteering in the Summer. It was enough in the Junior category but not enough in Elite. If you get the snow you'll be happy, even if you don't get special ski orienteering technique. Combining study or work in the Czech Republic with an Elite level sport is not that easy and flexible as in Sweden. So many athletes finished their careers when starting on university or working (you can't work just 50% or 30% to combine it with the sport).
Biking is really a big business in the Czech Republic - more than two million bikers and hobby bikers are registered and there are many marathons every week. There are many tracks, roads, paths in forests and beautiful terrains. Even students or working people in Prague or other places have good possibilities to train.
What would you say to someone who wants to get into Ski Orienteering?
H. H. - Come and try, its really fun!
Would you like to share your biggest wish?
H. H. - I would like to be healthy and I wish the same to all my friends!
[Photo courtesy of Sven Åke Nordenmark / Nordenmark Adventure / facebook.com/NordenmarkAdventure/]