So far, it has been a great season for Lucas Makowsky. He raced to his first individual World Cup medal, in the 1500m in Hamar, after which he went on to qualify for the Olympic 1500m and 5000m by finishing first in both distances at the Canadian Single Distances Championships/Olympic Trials in Calgary. On top of that, he continuously managed to improve his personal best times in the 1500m as well as the 5000m over the past few months. With the Olympics just around the corner, Makowsky talks about his season so far and reflects on how he is looking forward to what will be his first Olympic Games.
By Jolanda Abbes
How do you look back in general on the first half of your season?
“The first half of my season has been the best it’s ever been. It took me a few races to really get in tune with racing; but in each of my distances I showed good improvement throughout the World Cups. I skated a couple of personal bests in each of my distances and reached the podium in the 1500m in Hamar. There was a lot to be happy with in the first part of the Olympic year.”
How do you look back on the day you won your silver medal in the 1500m at the World Cup in Hamar?
“The day I won the silver medal in Hamar wasn’t much different than any other race day. As usual I had everything planned out the night before – when I would wake up, eat, go to the oval, warm up, et cetera – so from that I just kept with my regular routine. What was a little different, however, was how focused my race plan was. I knew what I did well in Heerenveen the weekend before, and what I could improve on. So, I used that as best as I could to focus on each part of my race. From the opener to each individual lap, I knew what I wanted to do. When the gun went off I followed my plan to a ‘t’. For the rest of the day I just took in and enjoyed what I had accomplished. It was a big step to be on the podium with Shani and Håvard that day so there was a lot to be proud of.”
How do you look back on the Olympic Trials? Would you consider this competition to be a good blueprint for the Olympics?
“Olympic Trials were pretty good, but I definitely wouldn’t consider them a blueprint for the Olympics. To begin with, they were in Calgary and not Richmond. The next thing is that it was obviously only a competition between Canadians with no internationals competing: a factor that changes the race environment quite a bit. And lastly, although there were almost as many, if not more, people than what a World Cup draws in Calgary, the atmosphere wasn’t anything like what I’ll expect at the Olympics. As for the races themselves, I was happy with the end results, just not particularly with how I felt during my races. The speed in my 5k wasn’t coming easy because I wasn’t being as technically efficient as I could have been. Then in the 1500m, I was a little more relaxed than I’d normally like to be. Aside from that though, the end result was the most important thing at those Trials. In that respect, I can’t complain.”
How do you look back on Continentals, at which you finished fifth overall?
“I look back on Continentals as a good weekend of training. The two weeks of training leading up to Continentals was pretty tough on my legs so that had a big effect on my results. Throughout the weekend I started feeling better racing-wise and by the end of the 10k I was feeling better than I did coming into the weekend – a good feeling to have looking forward to the last few weeks before the Games.”
How do you look forward to the Olympics?
“I look forward to making my Olympic experience as positive as I can. I’ve never been to the Olympics before, neither as a spectator nor as a competitor, so it will all be a new experience for me. Either way, I’m really looking forward to it.”
What is the one thing/most memorable moment that sticks out for you when you think about the Olympics?
“One thing that really sticks out when I think about Olympic moments was sitting in my living room during the Beijing Olympics watching the men’s triathlon. Watching Simon Whitfield’s fight at the end of the run was so inspirational that it instantly became one of those memorable Olympic moments.”
Who would you consider to be the greatest Olympic speed skater ever?
“I can’t really single out one person as the ‘greatest Olympic speed skater’ because there have been so many great skaters in the day. Also, I don’t know my speed skating history that well either: meaning there are other skaters who could take this title that I would have otherwise overlooked. Despite all that, Johann Olav Koss is up there in my books and so is Cindy Klassen, for obvious reasons.”
How do you look forward to the fact that the Olympics will practically be in your own backyard? Does that fact create extra pressure or do you think it will give the Canadian athletes a significant home advantage?
“It’s going to be an awesome opportunity for Canadians to really get behind all of our athletes and create that home-field advantage. It doesn’t create any extra pressure for me, however, because those expectations can turn into big distractions if YOU let them. All I can do is focus on the things that will prepare me to race my best.”
Can you describe what the Olympics mean to you?
“Aside from the fact that it really just boils down to another race, it’s the experience, the atmosphere, and the celebration of sport that makes the Olympics what they are. Once I am able to experience the Olympics first-hand, I should have a better understanding of what the Olympics really mean to me.”
Make sure to visit Makowksy's website for regular blog updates during the Olympics.
Photo 1, 3 and 4: DESGphoto/Lars Hagen
Photo 2: Kirsti Biseth