Snow is rare in his region, but even so, the Alentejo José Cabeça learned to ski in the space of a year and managed the feat of opening a spot for Portugal in the next Winter Olympics.
“There are many people who think: how is it possible, in one year, to go from not knowing how to ski to be fighting to go to the Olympic Games and be the first Portuguese to open an Olympic vacancy in Worlds”, jokes José Cabeça.
Without leaving the triathlon, the 25-year-old athlete tells the Lusa agency that he started the “adventure” of cross-country skiing “about a year and a half ago”, in France, where he lived, for “two and a half months”, for ” to be able to train “, because” it is impossible in Portugal “.
A few months later, in February of this year, at the Nordic Ski World Championship, in Germany, he reached the high point of his early career in the sport, with a score that opened a spot for Portugal at the Beijing’2022 Winter Olympics.
José Cabeça says that, before starting, he “liked cross-country” a lot [esqui de fundo] and biathlon “, which he only” saw on television “, and decided to venture into the sport after the PyeongChang Winter Games in 2018.
Portugal, recalls the skier, then had “a Portuguese in ‘cross-country’ skiing”, who had not been born in the country, which he considers understandable, because “it is practically impossible” to train the sport in “Portuguese lands”.
“I thought it would be a good chance to try to be the first Portuguese born in Portugal to go to the Winter Olympic Games and, it was there, that I started to study and try to understand how it was possible to carry out the sport”, he points out.
The start was not easy, since Portugal has no climatic conditions to develop the sport, but José Cabeça “did not lower his arms” and discovered that he could start with ‘roller ski’, or ski with wheels, a summer strand of skiing .
“I started to train this aspect, alone, which was not easy. After some time, with a lot of work and focus, I managed to reach a technical level that I could already train, because, in the beginning, it was just trying to do the technique and I didn’t even get tired “, he recalls.
With practice acquired in ‘roller ski’, he left for France, where “everything was different”, because he started to have access to the ski slopes, and, after two months, he even debuted in competitions of the modality, with the colors of a local team.
“I didn’t do it last, but it was almost,” recalls the skier, with a smile.
In the beginning, in French lands, alone and without the support of a coach of the sport, he confesses that he learned the skiing technique while watching other athletes and even “watching videos” and managed to “evolve” in this sport.
Despite being a skier for a short time, José Cabeça stresses that behind him are “many years of work”, that “they were not done in skiing”, but in triathlon, a modality in which he started competing at the age of 17 and still remains.
Currently, the training “is based on a mixture” between triathlon and cross-country skiing, with the sporting activity of the three modalities (swimming, cycling and running) having “a great weight” in its preparation, reports the Alentejo.
“I train an average of 25 to 30 hours a week and, of course, I don’t do this only in skiing and I use triathlon a lot to work on my aerobic capacity and I use, maybe a little more, skiing as a way to improve my technique” , he says.
Living for just over six months in Dubai, where he is a ‘personal trainer’, the skier stresses that, despite continuing to wear the Estoril Praia jersey in the triathlon events in which he participates, his life as an athlete is “very lonely “.
“I train alone and my trainer, Hélder Milheiras, is from Portugal and lives here”, but “we communicate over the Internet” and “we are lucky that the Internet allows the exchange of ideas” about the training, he stresses.
After having started in karate, at the age of six, and swimming before the triathlon, José Cabeça now bet on cross-country skiing with the objective of being at the Beijing2022 Winter Olympics in China.
To be there, the skier still has “four classifications with less than 300 points” ahead of him and it does not scare him the eventual appearance of “new athletes” to compete with this Olympic spot.
With the Chinese capital on the horizon, he says he still wants to improve “the descent part” and prepare himself in Norway for the Olympic Games, already in the winter of this year, without leaving out the next Ironman 70.3 World Championship and some ‘ roller ski ‘and triathlon.
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