December 2, 2020 | www.fisu.net
Trentino 2013 golden girl Eva Samková is flanked by her Czech teammate Katerina Chourova on the left and Polish bronze medalist Zuzana Smykala on the Winter Universiade Snowboard Cross podium
Czech snowboard cross star Eva Samkova says that her Trentino 2013 Winter Universiade experience helped to prepare her for another victory – a gold medal performance just 14 months later at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
“For me, it was kind of like the first experience with such a big event – it was like a smaller Olympics,” Samkova told Brian Pinelli about Trentino 2013 in the inaugural edition of the FISU University Legends Interview Series. “In the World Cups you don’t have the (Athletes) Village and all of these sports, so it was like a test for me for the Olympics next year.”
Eva soaring to the lead at the 2013 FIS World Cup Finals in Sierra Nevada after her gold medal performance in Trentino (photo credit: Oliver Kraus/FIS)
Samkova dominated the Trentino 2013 Snowboard Cross Final, leading start to finish, speeding around banked curves and over rollers, on a bluebird day at the Monte Bondone snowboard venue. Her teammate Katerina Chourova was second, rounding out an emotional Czech Republic 1-2 finish.
Then 20, Samkova says she enjoyed her overall Winter Universiade experience, a multi-sport event that encompassed 1,725 student-athletes from 51 countries competing on ice and snow over 11 days.
“The atmosphere is different because it’s all students and they are quite funky and everything is super fun,” Samkova says, recalling her time in Italy. “They always want to do their best and they are like the best athletes, but they still have this enthusiasm.
“It was a really nice time and we had so much fun with my team. I love these big events because you can meet so many athletes from the other sports.
“The competition was just the top of whole journey, so it was really nice.”
Since her Winter Universiade victory of seven years ago, Samkova has been a dominant force in snowboard cross, adding an Olympic bronze medal in PyeongChang 2018 to her Sochi 2014 gold. She has also won a pair of World Cup titles while racing to 14 victories, two X-Games silver medals and a 2019 world title in Park City, Utah.
Samkova out ahead in the Pyrenees during the SBX World Cup La Molina (photo credit Mario Sobrino/FIS)
Samkova, 27, attributes a large part of her success to a highly valuable lesson learned from an unfortunate incident earlier in her career.
“I think I was 19 and I crashed in Telluride in the U.S. at one of my first World Cups and I tore my ACL,” Samkova recalls. “I had to go for surgery and that was quite the moment that I realized how much I love the sport of snowboard cross, but I have to do something more than just riding.
“After that, I realized that I have to do gym and endurance if I want to keep up with the other girls,” she said. “That was really a key moment – for me and my confidence to do constant physical training from the spring to autumn.”
Despite uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic concerning the World Cup race schedule this upcoming season, Samkova is excited for the FIS Snowboard World Championships in Zhangjiakou, China, in February. The competition will serve as a tune-up and first glimpse of the future Olympic hill as she seeks a third consecutive Olympic medal at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Nothing better than celebrating on the podium with your teammate after an emotional 1-2 Czech finish in front of the passionate Italian winter sports fans the Trentino sun
“It’s world championships and we’ve never been there, so it’s quite different,” Samkova says. “I think everybody really wants to go to China to test our course before the Olympics.
“And also our technical teams too – you just really want to get to know the place, the hill and all the things you need to know, so it’s really important for us to go there.
“I just realized it’s 14 months,” she says about approaching Beijing 2022 Games approaching. “It’s so weird, I don’t feel like it is already three years since the Korean Olympics.
“I’m just trying to focus, especially on this season and then we’ll see.”