How is it that a Basque is a world snow champion ?
“We Basques do what we want”, laughs shyly, Lucas Eguibar (San Sebastián, 27 years old) , world champion of snowboard cross (a speed competition in snow on a board) when he prevailed on the same finish line last Thursday in Idre Fjäll , Sweden. Answer the call from EL PAÍS from a stretcher. "Right now they are giving me a massage," he explains. In his pursuit of the gold medal, in the quarterfinals, he received a strong impact when he performed one of the jumps, numerous in his discipline, and is touched: "The back is the one that suffers the most." But not the only one.
A few days ago, at the end of the semifinals, Eguibar confessed not feeling his legs. “The descent is demanding. You tend to end up quite tired. And that the circuits tend to be one minute long ”. In Idre Fjäll, the circuit, a descent in a straight line although with many undulations and through which he paraded at more than 90 km / h, was one minute and 20 seconds, which explains his exhaustion. "It was a lot, we are not used to it," he confesses. And that he, who was born next to La Concha beach and who usually has to leave Spain to train, pulls as much as he can on his physique, his strength.
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In September, October and November, his preseason, he goes to countries like Austria or Switzerland to train with the board: There was a time when he thought he would have to leave the Basque Country to be able to prepare on equal terms, but in the end chose to stay. He is aware that he competes with that handicap.
Austrian Alessandro Häm-merle, silver in the World Cup after a photofinish final, has the closest station at 30 meters. “He is one of my best friends on the circuit and I have been at his house. Attest. On the other hand, I have it 300 kilometers away ”, says Eguibar, who adds:“ After so many years, I have gotten used to it. It almost suits me; Because of how I am, having to move around is fine for me. I need a bit of beach, not just mountains. ”
Snow was always present in their routines. Family's things. He started skiing at the age of two and racing five before switching to the board: “I got tired. I wanted to try something different. ”
Eguibar's success in the last snowboard world championships is exceptional. Not only because he was the only Spanish participant in a test dominated by Austrians and Canadians, but also because the gold medal he achieved is one of the few with a Spanish seal on a ski slope. Until its irruption in the 2017 world championship, in Sierra Nevada, where it achieved two silver (one individual and one for teams), Spain only had four medalists in the snow sports world championships: Paquito Fernández Ochoa (bronze in the World Championship of Alpine Skiing 1974); Martí Rafel (bronze in acrobatic skiing in 1989); Juanito Mühlegg (gold in 50km and silver in pursuit at the 2001 Nordic Ski World Championships) and Queralt Castellet (silver in half-pipe in 2015 , the first Spanish medal in snow ).
The key to Eguibar's triumph in Sweden was to maintain calm in the initial meters: "My goal was to be calm at the top, place myself in second or third position and then try to accelerate and overtake them." He embroidered the plan. As it is a straight-line track, he took advantage of all the gaps and, also, the incredible final slipstream.
But plans don't always go that well in a discipline where there is a lot of contact and so many crashes. “It is normal to fall or to be thrown. And that is difficult to assimilate: you can get to a very important competition and crash the first time, ”he says. It was what happened in the Winter Games, in Pieonchang (South Korea), in 2018 , where he was the Spanish flag bearer
But these things affect Eguibar just enough. Learning about how his brother Nico sees life after spending 45 days in a coma after a motorcycle accident made him understand that “not everything is pretty”. Sweden's gold is also the first to be worn around his neck since he lost his coach Israel Planas in 2017. He passed away at the age of 41 from a stroke. “He has a lot to do with who I have become. Very much. ”