As we are approaching the new season really fast, we wanted to find out, what Eva Samkova (CZE) had to say about her career so far and what her outlook on the Olympic season is. She also told us what she loves about snowboard cross and who some of her favourite competitors are. Keep reading to find out…
Eva, so far in your career, you won 3 SBX Overall Crystal Globes, of which one was last season, you won two Olympic medals (one gold medal in Sochi 2014, one bronze medal in PyeongChang 2018), two World Championship medals (gold in Solitude 2019, and bronze last year in Idre Fjall). Looking back on your career so far, which one is your favourite memory to look back at so far?
Actually, it’s really hard to say, because every achievement, every medal is different and special in its own way, but for sure the first gold medal in Sochi, I was very young – that’s a super special one and it really changed my life for ever, I guess. I mean, I was super young and I didn’t realize how much of a big deal it was, not only to me, but also to others.
And the bronze medal was a totally different thing, it was really hard for me emotionally, especially a few days before the race and the big final in PyeongChang was super hard on a huge and very challenging course. For me, the bronze medal from PyeongChang had a taste of the gold, because I was lost all the time in the heat of the big final and so I was really happy that I pushed from 6th to third and won the bronze medal.
And as for the World Cup, this one race in Feldberg in 2017, I had a late start and was behind the rest of the girls, but in the end, I finished first. So, that was definitely one of my favourites. I know that that was just an ordinary World Cup race, but it was a huge thing for me that I managed to win the heat, after I dropped in so late.
Last season was an exceptional one, not only because of the worldwide pandemic, but because you managed to win the season long fight against your rival Michela Moioli (ITA). You entered the season finals with the exact number of points, which for sure put some pressure on both of you. How did you manage to keep your cool and to take the win in the end?
Actually, that was really hard but fun at the same time, because I think that is what we like about this sport… that it is not over until it is really over. Especially, when we both entered the big final in Veysonnaz, not only for us, but for everybody around and our fans, it was super exciting. For me, I tried to keep super focussed and not to think about the outcome at the finish line. I just stayed in the moment and wanted to give my 200% in that big final and tried to be as fast as possible. Especially in those races, where you have your biggest rival and one of the best athletes against you and you manage to win in the end, it is just an amazing feeling.
So, I think I was just really trying to focus on myself and my technique plus I believed in myself that I overcame a lot of critical moments already in my career and had gained a lot of experience, which led to more confidence in myself by now.
Is Michela (Moioli) your favourite athlete to compete against? If so, why or if not, who else and why?
Yeah, definitely, Michela is one of my favourite ones, because it is always such a tough battle with her. But I think that now we are top 8 or top 10 girls, where the fight is always super hard. And it’s not as it used to be a couple of years back that if one girl gets in front, she stays there, now even the small final is a huge fight until the very end.
So, I like to fight (and I mean in a good way 😉) Michela, also the French girls, Faye Gulini – she is super hard to fight against, and also Belle Brockhoff, she is super strong!
And as to the question “why” – you know, some girls have the best jumps, others the best turns, then there is some with a really strong technique or great tactics and it’s fun to try to keep up with them and sometimes they surprise you with their moves during the race. So, that’s really cool!
Looking ahead to the new season, we are entering one with the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing 2022. What are your goals for this season with this major event ahead?
Well, my goal is definitely to get into the top three at the Olympics, because I already have two medals and it would be kind of nice to complete this collection 😊, but it will be even harder to achieve than in PyeongChang and definitely much, much harder than it was in Sochi. I achieved a lot of things in my career and I am really grateful for that, so I want to try to be the best and if everything goes well, I would love to be on the podium.
But having said that, I am trying to really focus and trying to give my best in the trainings, however in snowboard cross anything can happen and we need to keep that in mind. It will be really nice if I can make it into the top three, but if not…that’s life.
Is it easier to enter a year with Olympic Winter Games, when you already have two medals at home, or is the mental stress just as big?
I don’t know, I think I am going to figure that out, once I am in Beijing, but definitely my first Olympics in Sochi, I really had no idea what to expect and I was just 20 years old. It was still hard mentally, because obviously it’s the Olympics and everybody is aware of that, but I didn’t have anything to lose.
And in PyeongChang it was pretty hard, because I tried to not put pressure on myself. I tried to distress myself and kept telling myself that it was a normal race, like any other one. But that didn’t work out so well and one day before the finals I had to kind of rethink everything and push myself to be wanting to win the Olympics. I was in a really weird mental stage and I didn’t know, if I wanted to win or not. So, the second Olympics were really hard for me, because the focus was on me and everything was a little stressful.
But I hope these Olympics now in Beijing, I hope I will be a little more chill as for the mental side, because I hope to be more used to being under the stress now. And you know, it would be super nice to get a third Olympic medal, but if things don’t go as planned, I still have two medals at home and a lot of other great achievements and I think I’ve done my job properly so far. And from this point on it’s adding little extras to the career.
But for sure, all Olympics are stressful, nevertheless I hope these ones will be more chill for me.
What would you tell young snowboard cross athletes just entering into the World Cup circuit?
That falling and crashing is normal and that it’s going to happen a lot of times. And that when you enter a heat and make a mistake and end up not winning, it’s ok, because you end up learning.
I did a lot of stupid mistakes in my career, but that’s just a learning process. That’s normal in every sport and also in ours that you see the way and journey ahead and you are following the path, but along the way you have to make some mistakes in order to get better.
And also, when I was young and entering the World Cup, I was super afraid of the good girls and huge stars of the World Cup, so don’t be afraid and just fight them like everybody else and don’t let them intimidate you. Like me, I was so afraid of for instance Dominique Maltais (CAN) and was braking to let her pass through. So…don’t do that! But actually…that’s me giving advice against myself right now, isn’t it?! 😊
Which one is your favourite snowboard cross feature to ride and why?
Actually, I think jumps. If you have a good jump and the landing is super soft and nice, I really like that. I like that you can fly high and long, that’s fun! And if you have a good landing, that is just perfect!
Also, I like some kind of doubles, like double rollers. They are fun too.
What is most challenging for you when competing during a worldwide pandemic?
Definitely to not get irritated by all the rules, because everybody really wanted to see the World Cup happen and it was awesome that we could compete despite the pandemic and all the organizers did a fantastic job, but sometimes all the rules, restrictions, mask wearing obligations they are a little bit irritating. So, for me that was the most challenging thing to keep my chill and not go crazy with all those PCR tests and so on. I mean, I know that it is necessary to keep the safety measures in place and to enable the event, but sometimes it just was a little bit much.
What do you wish for the future of the sport of SBX?
I wish that SBX will stay still challenging and exciting and fun to watch for the fans and fun to ride for us athletes. I wish for it to get a bigger sport and encourage young kids and young people, because it is such a beautiful sport. And I also wish that we will keep having snow with all these environmental and climate changes.
Name three things you love about SBX.
1 – To go down the course in heats!
2 – That you can mess up the start and still be able to win!
3 – It’s a really fair sport and a fair community. I love the community, because we are always in a good mood and super friendly with each other. Competitive, but friendly 😊
This interview got us all excited for the season kick-off, which will happen already on November 28 with the Olympic test event in Secret Garden, China. Make sure to tune in to get a little breeze of the Olympic flair and please come back to our website more frequently now to not miss out on any season updates. And in the meantime, you can find the FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup calendar HERE.