Episode 3 : The Delegation of Sweden at the European Championships
Umeå is located on the north coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. We spoke with Helena Gustafsson to understand her objectives and to discover the motivation of this delegation. We also talked about the financial, material and human resources available to support this lonely athlete in the European Championships 2011.
A lonely figure skater
If Helena is the only skater of this delegation, it is because "Sweden skaters are more involved on the ice than on the wheels," said the young Swede. However, there are roller skating championships every year in Sweden, on the road, on the track and on the marathon. A brand new track has even been built five years ago, which allowed Sweden to double its number of tracks (!!!).
Despite this new equipment, the number of skaters has not increased in the country: the national championships in Sweden regroups fifty skaters (all categories included, from the youngest to master). Furthermore, one only count a dozen of Scandinavian clubs in the whole territory.
For Sweden, or rather for Helena, the objective is to integrate a good Top 10 in the final of the road. To give an idea of her level, she realized the same performances as one of the best junior ladies at the International Trophy of San Antonio (in Pamplona) in June 2011. In long distance races, she recognizes her difficulties in the pack, she is not accustomed to evolve surrounded by many skaters.
Indeed, in Umeå, there is no club. Helena is forced to train alone. When we ask her if she skates on ice, she said "no"...before revealing during the discussion she was nevertheless medalist four times at national championships in ice skating! What she meant is that she had not an international level, but still! In any case: "most roller skaters also skate on ice."
The staff and the means at its disposal
For these championships in the Netherlands, Helena came with a coach, but no therapist or Federal Commissioner. All expenses are supported by the Swedish federation. The financial aspect does not seem to be a problem for the federation. In Sweden, both inline speed-skating and ice speed-skating belongs to the federation, like in the Netherlands. This helps to use common resources of all kinds!
Helena has participated all year long to various competitions of the New European Cup. She always trying to push her limits and to beat her personal bests. She worked hard to improve technically. She already participated to eight European Championships, nevertheless she started practising roller-skating at the age of 17. But she certainly had already acquired solid basis on the ice.
For the World Championships, "The Federation Has not Told anything, yet." Helena has no idea if she will go in South Korea or not. She says that her participation does not depend on finances. This will probably depend on her performances at Zwolle ... wish her the best!
Meanwhile, at 18:00 hours, this Wednesday, August 3, heavy drops falling on the road circuit located near of the football stadium of the FC Zwolle... The finals have been postponed to Thursday at 5:30 p.m.. Helena will have to wait until tomorrow to unfold and express her talent against opponents...
Unknown delegations in European Championships 2011: Portugal and UK
Unknown delegations in European Championships 2011: Sweden
Unknown delegations in European Championships 2011: Czech Republic
Unknown delegations in European Championships 2011: Danemark
Unknown delegations in European Championships 2011: Slovenia
Unknown delegations in European Championships 2011: Hungary
Translated by Alfathor
Photos : Daniel Busser