Name: Mike Janyk
Age at 2006 Olympics: 23
Years with National Team: 6
How hard is it to win in the slalom?
Every week it’s a different story. There are a lot of young guys coming up, but there are also a lot of contenders in every competition, from start one to start 50, with a lot of the same guys up top every week. It’s pretty cool in some respects, but everyone out there can put together a winning couple of runs. Any day could be your day. I’m getting better start positions now, which helps your results, but there’s less room for error than there has ever been.
How do you get ready for a competition?
If it’s a morning competition then I make sure I get up early and get to the hill. I do a couple of warm-up runs and try to stay calm and focus on what I’m doing. That’s all you really have time for. For night races, I try to sleep in as much as I can, eat a leisurely breakfast, and I do a few exercises and do my activation stuff (to get reflexes working) before I head to the hill for three o’clock. I do a few warm-up runs and some freeskiing, and listen to my iPod and try to stay calm.
Do you listen to music when skiing, and what are you listening to?
Never when I’m racing, although there was a Swiss guy who did that in Adelboden. Nobody could believe he did it, but he did well and came in 12 th .
I tend to listen to chill stuff, like David Gray. I don’t like to get too pumped up because you can lose your focus. In slalom you can’t just blow out of the start, you have to be in control and focus on every turn.
I will listen to music before the start, there’s a lot of crowd noise and the sound of the announcers to blank out so you can focus on skiing. I’d say more than half of athletes are using music.
Do you remember your first skis?
They were Fischers, but that’s all I can remember. You go through a lot of skis racing.
What is your worst injury?
I’ve broken my leg twice, and I did the meniscus in my knee in 2003. Everything is fine now – no problems except for wear and tear, sore muscles. Sometimes I’ll get a gate on my wrist where there isn’t any padding, so I’ll have a bruise, but slalom is toughest on your back. It stiffens up after a few events, but we have a physio to stretch it out again.
What do you like about slalom?
Just that on any day anything can happen, and there’s always an opportunity to get right in there with the top guys. I trained really hard in the summer, and my times have been fast every time I trained on the snow, which really helped by confidence.
Usually Thomas (Grandi) is the one who is performing in the races, but in every day of training I’m beating him.
What advice do you give kids starting out and who might want to compete on the national team someday?
Work hard and stick with it. It’s very competitive up top.
Who were your role models growing up, and who do you look up to now?
When I was younger I looked up to the older athletes in the (Whistler Mountain Ski Club). When I was picked for the national team it was Thomas Grandi, and we’ve been training together now for five years. I’ve really learned a lot from him, his work ethic and his dedication to the sport, and his professionalism.
What motivates you these days?
To win – that’s my biggest motivation. Do I have the commitment to stick around as long as it takes to win? I think so. Grandi and the guys were talking about that the other day. (Grandi) said that if he was 21 and someone told him he’d have to wait until he was 32 to win a race, he didn’t know if he’s stick around that long. I said for sure, as long I get a win I’d stick around as long as it takes.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully I’ll have a gold medal around my neck from (2010) races at home, and I’ll be continuing my career to the next Olympics in 2014.
I spent my first four years with the team taking courses, but now skiing is full-time, summer and winter, so I’m focusing on that, but I could see myself taking more courses down the road.
Salomon (skis, boots and bindings), Alpina (helmets and goggles), Gabel (poles)