Street rat

Image:Street rat
14. Dec, 2016 Written by: Elan
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By Filip Flisar

 

Because of the fact that I do many rather adrenaline friendly sports during the summertime, people often ask me: “Don’t you think it’s a waste, working so hard and then throwing it all away?”

Actually, I do think that would be a waste, but I would not be the Filip Flisar I am today if I didn’t indulge in activities that keep me coming home with new cuts and bruises, broken bikes (and the odd bone here and there). At one point my mother often did not even want to take me to the hospital anymore, because it just needed to be done too often. The older I am, the more I understand how sport works. Generally speaking, we can separate athletes into those that had the right conditions from an early age and the support of a team of professions, and then the street rats, people like myself. A street rat learns alone, from his or her own mistakes. On one hand, this is a drawback. Progress is much faster if you don’t repeat the mistakes others made before and don’t try to invent things that already exist. But on the other hand, the mistakes of a street rat hurt, and make one think that much harder about it. You can warn a child about hot coffee in the pot a hundred times. But the kid who burns his hands because he was too careless most definitely won’t do it again and will be more careful in the future.

I have made many great mistakes in my career, and still sometimes make them. But each and every one teaches me a lot. I am sure that the success of an individual depends on the way they react to a mistake. You can interpret it as failure and quit, or you can learn. This is the game-changer - not only in sport, but also in life.

I was always an outgoing child, I loved jumping around on the bike and rollerblades, trying new things and exploring the unknown. Being a street rat made me grow up faster as an athlete, and I realized very early on that all these “dangerous” sports that I was doing were very good for me. Particularly due to the nature of ski cross where no two runs are alike. You can let four racers ride down the same track thousands of times and the overtakes will never be the same. The ride just develops as it goes and whoever adapts the best to the new circumstances and moves of the other three ends up winning.

The most important race for all of us is the Olympic Games, held every four years. This means that I can be in best form of my life at only two Olympics, maybe three if the stars align just right. That is why I simply can’t allow my self to fail because someone in front of me reacted differently than I thought they would at the start line. And that is why I do my dangerous sports, because I only get two tries in my life and unfortunately one is already behind me. It doesn’t matter if it’s a motorbike, skateboard, bike or rollerblades. All these activities make a small contribution to the great whole, from getting used to speed on the motorbike, to learning balance on the skateboard or blades, to jostling for position, overtaking and understanding jumps and other specifics of racing a BMX bike.

Yes, it is dangerous and risky, I agree. But you can only get up to tenth or perhaps fifth position without taking risks. Reaching the gold requires a step further. There is another thing to consider. I never take on risks unprepared, like starting to learn double back flips on the bike a week before the racing season starts. When you do dangerous things all your life, you learn to walk the thin line between dangerous and too dangerous. It is a massive difference between being crazy and being stupid.

So there, that’s why I don’t think it is a waste for me to be doing all these things, even if they can result in an injury that could cost me my career. It is part of the process, of my path to success, and if an injury does happen, it’s simply because I really, really want to wear that damned piece of golden tin from the Olympics.

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