Interview with long track skater Benjamin Macé (France)
From roller-skating to short track and long track
Hello Benjamin, at what age did you start skating?
I started skating at 6 or 7. I still remember it. We were at Gujan-Mestras at that time. As often, we were on a skating outing with my father and my brother on the road track when we passed the Roller-Skating Gujan-Mestras Club… I still remember the face of my father when he saw inline skates for the first time… Obviously, for those who don't know him, Loïc Macé, a competitor to the core, set off in pursuit of the pack with his 4-wheel Galaxy skates, and as you will have guessed, he did not last long! This is how we discovered skating and how I went into this sport with my brother.
Thus, you started with roller-skating, not ice-skating…
Yes, the closest ice-rink from Gujan is in Bordeaux if I'm not mistaken, and I believe there have never been short track there. I discovered that sport only when I arrived in Dijon, when I joined the Roller Skating Dijon Bourgogne Club, run by the same person who trained the SIDB (short track club of Dijon).
Indeed, the short track skaters would join us for the summer trainings and this is how I met them. At first, I would only take part in the ice-hockey games organized by the short trackers, on Wednesday evenings. Having a good feeling with the team, I decided to spend more time with them and join them for the ice trainings. I immediately liked it. The speed sensations are far bigger than on roller-skates.
Did you do other sports?
No. I never did something else than skating.
Can you tell us about your short track career?
My short track career didn't last very long. I started in 2005 for fun and then I saw it on TV for the 2006 Olympic Games of Turin. It triggered a real motivation, and, above all, an OBJECTIVE, that of taking part in the Olympics of Vancouver 2010. This is what I clung to for 5 years, and to be quite frank, the years that followed were not easy, especially the one before the Games. I held concurrently a job at Mac Donald's and my intensive training. It was probably the harder year of my short track career.
What made you switch from short track to long track?
What made me change is quite easy to guess if you remember the final of the 1.500 m at the 2012 Olympics: the 3 Koreans are leading until the last bend, the 3rd tries to pass the 2nd and they both end up in the protective mats. That action proves how random short track is and how 4 years of training are at the mercy of the hazardous passing of an opponent. I also realized that my "build" is more that of a long tracker. These are the main reasons why I switched, and I'm very satisfied with my choices.
Do you use roller-skating as further training?
Roller-skating has always been a sport I particularly like, although I neglected it the last few years. Yet, I try to practice a bit during the off-season when we don't have ice, and go and watch a couple of races in order to remember where I come from. This year, I even plan to take part in the road French Championships at first if my schedule allows me to do so, and why not in the track championships too. This will give a bit more rhythm to the off-season training, which is often boring because of the lack of competitions.
What is the frequency of your trainings and their content?
I train around twice per day, and six days a week. Generally, we skate on mornings and afternoons, we do either cycling or bodybuilding. Then, the length and the content of the trainings vary a lot according to the period we are in. Sometimes we do 10-min sessions on ice (the ones I like best) or 2-h trainings.
Do you train with Alexis Contin, Ewen Fernandez and Tristan Leroy?
I train with Ewen Fernandez, Tristan Leroy and other skaters of the Kia Speed Skating Academy, but also with the second coach of the academy, Jeremy Wotherspoon. It's a training center for skaters like us who don't have any suitable structure for high level sports in their countries. That project was carried out by Marnix Wieberdink, a great figure outside the world of long track speed skating, whom we should thank for giving us the means of achieving our ambitions.
What are your objectives for the season and the years to come?
Obviously, the olympic medal is the main objective. However, I also have other objectives in mind. To start with, in less than a week, I take part in the world championships where I would like to reach the Top-5 again for the 1.500m and the Top-10 for the 1.000m, in order to finish the year with a flourish. As for next season, my objectives will be to do better than this year of course, and I hope that the means I will have will enable me to achieve them.
Do you have a job? Or do you study besides skating?
I don't do studies and I don't have any training enabling me to have a proper job. I only have my A levels (scientific options) which I took the year before the Olympics of Vancouver. Today, I'm in a very insecure situation, not being a student or a job-seeker. It explains more precisely my answer to the previous question as for my objectives. This is the most difficult thing to cope with, being in Inzell in Germany 8 months of the year. Even correspondence course becomes complicated.
What do you think of the lack of facilities in France?
Obviously, everything would be easier if we had a ring in France, but unfortunately it is not the case. I really don't have an opinion on the problem and I am quite fatalistic and resigned. I will probably have my whole career abroad just like every "good French skater" (allusion to Alexis who has been living that situation for much longer than me).
You train abroad… But do you live in Inzell all year?
Yes, I live in Inzell, in Bavaria, at the Kia Speed Skating Academy. This year, I will have spent 8 months there, plus the month of March that we spend in competition, isolated from the rest of the world. It is not always an easy situation, we are two to share a 9 m2 room and you sometimes feel the lack of intimacy. But Inzell is a great training environment: we are hardly 5 min from the ring. Everything is made for us to think about only one thing: skating.
Why do you think we don't have a proper team?
I don't have an answer to this question.
A few words to conclude?
See you soon for the world championships in Heerenveen.
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