Jesper Pedersen who was born with spina bifida aiming to end Paralympic in Pyeochang with medals. He has a great season and now has a chance to make his dream come true. Here’s questions Jesper Pedersen answered for us, before World Cup finals in Canada.
Paulina Królak: Due to bad weather conditions, the organizers had to cancel the Para Alpine World Cup in St. Moritz and Tignes. What is your plan to improve your condition before Paralympic Games?
Jesper Pedersen: I’m attending last year in high school here in Norway, so sometimes I have to be at school as well. Apart from school I’m going to do some training at my home skiresort before we leave for the World Cup finals in Kimberley (Canada, 9-11 February). After that I’m going home for two weeks of training and school before we leave for South Korea.
P.K.: Who will be the most dangerous rivals for you during the Paralympic Games in South Korea?
J.P.: There is a lot of good sitskiers that’s going to Korea so it’s difficult to pick out who is going to be the strongest rivals. But in speed events I think Andrew Kurka and Corey Peters are gonna be strong, but I think I have a chance there as well. In technique events (slalom/giant slalom) I think Igor Sikorski is gonna be a hard man to beat. Also the dutch Jeroen Kampschreur and Tyler Walker is gonna be strong.
P.K.: In which para alpine event you are feeling the strongest?
J.P.: I have currently won all the giant slalom events this year so I must say I feel strongest in that one. But on a good day I think I have also got good chances in slalom. I have also trained a lot of speed this summer so I think im in position to take medals in all the events.
P.K.: In interviews you emphasized that you’re dreaming about a medal at the Paralympic Games in 2022. Do you believe you will have a medal around your neck after Paralympics in Pyeong Chang? Your current disposition looks so good.
J.P.: I have trained over 50 days of skiing this summer and autumn. And the first races of this season has gone over all expectations, so I think im in position to take medals in Pyeongchang also.
P.K.: Do you think Igor Sikorski has a chance to win a medal during the Paralympic Games?
J.P.: Igor has done a great job in slalom this year, and I look at him as one of the favorites to win the slalom in Korea.
P.K.: Do you remember the moment when you said that sport is just what you would like to sacrifice completely?
J.P.: First time I was skiing with my father I was 2 years old and I started to ski alone when I was six. When I was around 11 I started training with my local club and attended some camps for the recruitment squad of Norway. So I guess it’s been a huge part of my life till now and aiming for medals in Paralympics has kind of just been a natural thing for me.
P.K.: Do you use a psychologist or a mental coach work in your daily life?
J.P.: Last season one of my big struggles was working with my head. But this year I have worked a bit with a mental coach and it has helped me getting the right focus and I think that is a part of why I get these good results now.
P.K.: On the official website of the IPC, we can read that your parents had the greatest impact on the development of your career. What are you the most grateful for?
J.P.: I hadn’t been where I am today if it hadn’t been for my amazing parents. They showed me the sport when I was very little and have given me the opportunity to get to see how good I can get. It’s been many many hours in a car driving to ski resorts but we finally get to see the results of it, and it makes everything worth it. They have teached me how to see opportunities when everybody else just see problems.
P.K.: Do you feel recognizable in your country?
J.P.: Not really. But lately I have been figured on the milk bottles in Norway as a step to get our sport more well known before the Paralympics. In my local community I am kind of well known, but it’s okey for me not being recognized on the streets.
P.K.: How people perceive disabled athletes in your country?
J.P.: I think disabled athletes get enough acceptance from the community, although it’s more difficult for us to get sponsors, because the big newspapers don’t right about us too often.
P.K.: Is it hard for para athletes to find a sponsorship?
J.P.: It’s been hard for me to get some really big sponsors, but I got a few local ones that helps me a lot. Luckily I’m still studying and living home at my mums and dads place, but I think it’s gonna be difficult for me to live just skiing and training for the Paralympics. So therefore I have to get a good job that let me do what I like most, skiing.
P.K.: Does the government in your country support financially the athletes with disability?
J.P.: I get a good stipendium from Olympiatoppen in Norway. That’s where all the Olympic and Paralympic athletes train.
P.K.: What are you doing in your free time?
J.P.: On my spear time I’m doing schoolwork, training at the gym and hanging out with my friends and family. And of course skiing as much as possible.
Photo: from Jesper’s private archives.