Andrew Kurka is currently pursuing a medal in Alpine skiing for the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. He originally wanted to go to the Olympics as a wrestler, but after serious accident his dream was over, but now he has many plans for his life. Here’s ten questions Andrew answered for us.
Adrian Lipiński (AL): Alpine Skiing seems to be very dangerous discipline. What do you feel during the competitions?
Andrew Kurka (AK): I feel an intense sense of focus when I compete. Even though it may be dangerous I don’t feel fear. If you think if you feel fear, your focused on the wrong thing. I try to enter every competition with an intense focus. So much so that there’s no time to be afraid.
AL: At age 13 you had an accident while riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) severely damaged three vertebrae in the middle of his spinal cord. Two years after you decided to try the monoski, this decision help you accept yourself?
AK: Yes going back to being an athlete after my injury was the best decision I have ever made. It’s also a decision I would love to see so many more do also! I know there’s a lot of young future Paralympic athletes out there. Some of them might not even know about Paralympic sport and how competitive it is. I think getting it more we’ll known could really inspire and help to change some lives. Especially of some young future athletes.
AL: Your first Olympic dream wasn’t on the slopes, but on the wrestling mat, unfortunately you must wait for your first start at Paralympic Games, in Sochi you has an injury before first event. What was your feeling after this accident?
AK: My feeling after my accident in Sochi was sheer dread. I had worked so hard and had such a great chance to do so well. Yet I blew it on a training run. It’s been a black cloud hanging over me for these last few years. It’s helped me to focus on the important things. Bettering myself every chance I get and looking forward I’m excited to finish in Pyeong Chang and prove to myself that I could do it.
AL: You claimed first major medal in Panorama, Canada, in 2015. Two years later you took three medals at World Championsip in Tarvisio, what are your impressions when you hear the national anthem?
AK: When I hear my national anthem I’m proud every time. To become world champion was a huge honor and the fact that I was able to do it. Means I was able to prove to myself what I’m truly capable of. That I am the best and that I can be the best with or without any injury. After so many podiums at world championships I proved to myself that my strategy is working and I plan on only getting better in the years to come.
Gold medal run for Kurka at World Championships in Tarvisio 2017
AL: Igor Sikorski from Poland had silver medal in Tarvisio. Do you think polish skier has a chance to get first medal for our country at Paralympic Games?
AK: Yes I definitely think Igor is a contender in both the GS and Slalom events. He’s an awesome competitor. One of my favorites to watch. Every run he goes for gold. Either crashes or lands a solid podium. It’s something I respect. I love to see him on the podium just because of that.
AL: Do you feel support from your National Paralympic Committee, friends and family?
AK: I feel tons of support from everyone. All over, I feel like I have a good story and after the injuries I have had throughout my career. From my broken femur to breaking my back multiple times and so on. It helps everyone want to see me overcome and thrive. When they feel that way I feel the support and it helps me to compete. I love it when people follow and support my career.
AL: After successful season 2016/2017 you have greater motivation to continue training?
AK: I think my motivation is definitely increased since I became world championships and won my globes. Simply for the fact that instead of being the chaser and trying to run down the best. I am the best and everyone has their eyes on me. Chasing me down and trying to beat me. That makes me much more motivated to win and train.
AL: Which apline skiing event is your favourite, and why?
AK: Downhill is my favorite! SuperG is my second favorite GS my third and slalom 4th. I love downhill with the speed you carry and adrenaline that’s runs. The air you catch and the type of line choice you need to take. It’s where my fearless attitude excels.
AL: What are your expectations of the Paralympics in Korea?
AK: After the test events next year I am super excited to be competing there! It’s going to be amazing. Compared to Sochi I think it’ll benefit me greatly and the terrain and management of the mountain is awesome. I’m looking forward to a great competition. And overall fun time enjoying the culture.
AL: I know that you have many hobbies. Can you tell us more how you spend your free time?
AK: When I’m not skiing, I enjoy my time in the wilderness in Alaska. I travel and try to do my best to showcase what people with disabilities are capable of. Whether it be rock climbing kayaking skiing or fishing/hunting. I try to try everything and do everything I get the chance to. I tend to spend most my time fishing, and plan to retire with a B&B where I can take people to explore alaska and go fishing with me.
Photos: Thanks to Andrew Kurka.