This year the World Championships will be held in the Netherlands, in Heerde and Arnhem. In our series #Worlds2018 we will talk to skaters from all over the world and find out who they are, if they’re gonna make it to Worlds and what skatinglife is like in their own country.
In the third edition: Larissa Paes
At the Holland Cup in Heerde there was one entry from Brazil: Larissa Paes. Before the interview, a Portuguese translator was stand-by, just in case. But there was no need to worry, Larissa started answering in English and never stopped talking again.
The skating career
Larissa is 22 now and only started skating when she was 13 years old. Why did you start skating? “I got my first pair of skates as a Christmas present when I was 6 years old and I enjoyed it. I did a lot of sports growing up, like volleyball, basketball and swimming, but I never stuck to it. Then my mom saw an ad for a skating competition and we went there. I took one class and I never got tired of it. I went to every training and also trained a lot after hours. When I was young that was still possible, until I went to university. I was in an exchange program in New Zealand (that explains the perfect English). When I was there I wasn’t training, I only went to all the races that Bill Begg (inline legend and New Zealand national coach) organized.”
By now Larissa graduated from University in Physical Education. So one day she can become a trainer. “I’d like to make the skating better in Brazil. But right now I’m really just focusing on being an athlete. I think I have a lot of potential but I’ve wasted many years studying and working. I want to see where I can get.”
She started by going to Chili to train, because there’s no track in Brazil. “Yeah, the place where I train is a parking lot, the firemen allowed us to train there. It’s been really dusty and we haven’t been able to train hard. So I went to Chili to train on a real track. And I got a lot better over there. They have a strong competition and everybody is training hard. They focus a lot on physical training as well. So I got to prepare my body a bit better.”
You say that like it was necessary. “Last year I went to worlds and I wasn’t even participating in the race. I was last in almost every race. Now I hope I can maybe make top 20 and be ‘in the race’ at least.”
That’s a nice goal. “I know it’s not like I can train for only six months and ‘bam’ I’m there, but I have to start somewhere.”
Training in Holland
How did you end up here in Holland? “Mitchell Ross (Australia) is my friend, he was at Worlds last year. He wanted to skate in Europe this year and stay in Geisingen. So I said: “cool, I’ll go with you.” Later he changed his plan to going to Holland and train with Desley Hill. So that’s were I ended up too.”
What do you like about skating? “Everybody in the skating community is very helpful. It’s not just about competition, in many other sports I’ve seen people are friendly up to a point and then, not so much anymore. After the races everybody is friends, it’s a healthy competition.”
How about marathons? “I love marathons. Last year I was in the marathon at Worlds. The track was all flat and we arrived with the whole pack of skaters at the finish line. It was a huge sprint. I was 5 seconds behind the winner and I got 80th place, that was insane.”
Larissa will live in Heerenveen and train there too. So I have to ask about iceskating as well. “There’s a program with Brazilians that Bram Smallebroek told me about. There are a few Brazilians starting something on ice, but it’s only guys, and they invited me because they needed a girl.” It’s a possibility that she will start skating on ice too, but she’d have to pay for the whole program herself. Larissa would be the first Brazilian woman on ice and might even make it to the Olympics. “That would be a big thing in Brazil.” Smiling: “if I would only make it into the Olympics, that would be amazing.”
Are there other skaters from Brazil going to Worlds? “Probably, there’s another girl who was selected, she’s half Colombian half Brazilian. In Colombia she didn’t have any chances of making the team, so now she went to Brazil to qualify for the Worlds. She’s in Colombia now for training.”
And the guys? “There’s another boy from my team, he’s actually really good. He was 17th in junior Worlds last year. That was the best result for Brazil ever. Right now he’s a senior, so it will be harder for him this year. We depend on a government program to give us the tickets, that’s the only way that we can travel a lot. If they pay for his ticket he will come to Worlds too. And then there’s Eder, I’m sure everybody who skates knows him because he’s in every World Championship. He’s the only Brazilian that’s always there. He’s really good but he might not make the team this time because he wasn’t in Nationals last year and the 2 best skaters from Nationals are selected.”
The hardest part in Brazil about skating is that you have to provide for yourself and travel a lot. Most jobs don’t allow you to travel a lot, you’ll get fired. So skaters usually have to find a job that doesn’t pay very well, cause you have to travel. You have to work all day and train at night, it’s busy.”
Races in Europe
Larissa is planning to go to 3 Routes in France and to Rennes. After that she’s coming back to Holland and will skate races here too if possible. I explain that for Dutch national races she might have to travel to a small town in the north of the country (like Zwaagwesteinde or Haulerwijk), be wondering if there is really a track over there and then find one around the corner. “That’s my dream! In Brazil we have no tracks at all.”
Update: At 3 Routes she finished 8th in the general classification. In the Rennes sur Roulette marathon she didn’t finish the total distance and ended up 27th.
Holland Cup Heerde
This weekend you were in the 500 meter and long distances? “Yes, my flight arrived on Friday night and on Saturday morning I skated the 500 meter. I didn’t make it past the heats, but I had a good start. I’m usually only a long distance skater, but the level of competition here and at Worlds is so high that even the long distances are like a long sprint for me.”
Pictures: Asta Nantes (taken at Trois Routes)
Worlds will be held from 1-3 july on the track in Heerde and from 5-8 july in Arnhem on the road. Go to wkinlineskaten.nl (website also in English) for tickets and info.
Do you want to know more about Worlds? Check out our Teams section on the website and look for #Worlds2018