As a apart of our ‘TeamPages Chat with the Pros’ interview series, I spoke with Lucas Makowsky, who won a Gold Medal during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, in the Men’s Team Pursuit – Speed Skating. Winning a Gold Medal in the Olympics, in your home country, is a pretty spectacular accomplishment! Lucas is one of the sweetest boys I have ever met, and he definitely deserved this medal!
At TeamPages, we encourage everyone to follow their dreams, both in sport and in life, and it is great to see that Lucas Makowsky is following his dreams in sport, as well as in school.
Lucas Makowsky, was born on May 30, 1987 in Regina, Saskatchewan and currently lives in Calgary, Alberta. Please read the interview below to learn more about him!
Be sure to read the advice he gives in Question #10.
Question #1: Can you tell me about where you grew up, what were your favourite sports growing up were?
I was born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan and I loved playing all kinds of sports when I was younger. Soccer was probably my favourite though.
Question #2: How did you decide you wanted to try speed skating?
When I was 6 years old, my parents asked my brother and me if we wanted to try speed skating. Not knowing any better I said sure and have stuck with it ever since!
Question #3: Can you please give an overview of your speed skating career, and what type of speed skating you specialize in?
After I started to get more competitive in the sport, I started to see success at the provincial level. In 2002, I won 5 gold medals at the Saskatchewan Winter Games, then competed at the Canada Winter Games a year later. Once I reached the Junior International in 2005, passion for the sport took hold and I never looked back.
I went on to represent Canada at several international competitions, racing the 1500m, 5000m, 10000m, and Team Pursuit events in Long Track (on the 400m oval). In the 2009-2010 season, I stepped onto the World Cup podium for the first time in an individual distance in the 1500m in Norway, placing second, then repeated that result at the end of the season in the Netherlands at the World All-round Championships.
Finally, at my first Olympic Games in Vancouver, I helped bring home a gold medal in the men’s Team Pursuit on the second last day of competition, and placed 13th and 19th in the 5000m and 1500m, respectively.
Question #4: You won the Gold Medal in the Team Pursuit during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. What was going through your head during and immediately after the race?
During the race all I was focusing on were the two laps I had to ‘pull’ out in front. As long as I could lead those two laps as fast as possible, then hold on in the back for the rest of the race “pushing” my teammates, I would give our team the best shot at winning. Right after the race I couldn’t really believe we had just did what we did. I was so excited.
Question #5: Besides compete, what else did you do during the Olympics during your stay in Vancouver? What was your favourite memory. How did you enjoy the Olympic Village?
Because all of my races were spread out over the entire Olympic schedule, I didn’t get to do too much else during the Games. I did, however, get to see some Short Track, some hockey, and check out a bunch of the “houses” and “pavilions” downtown.
Aside from winning gold, I have many great memories from the Olympics. One that’s definitely up there is being at the men’s gold medal hockey game simply because I was part of an event that nearly the entire country was watching. It was incredible. I spent about half the time at the Village and loved every bit of it. We were taken care of really well!
Question#6: Do you travel lots for Speed Skating? Do you enjoy all the travel, or does it detract from your schooling and social life in Calgary?
The majority of our World Cups and World Championships are out of country so I do travel quite a bit. I enjoy traveling but it can make things a little more difficult when it comes to studying on the road. As for the social life, you have to make a lot of sacrifices to begin with to train and compete at this level, but being out of the country limits that even more.
Question #7: Did you always want to become a high-level athlete, or did you ever want to be something else?
I didn’t aspire to become an elite athlete from day one – it was more so something I grew into wanting to become and am very glad I did. When I was younger, however, one of the things I always wanted to become was a race car driver.
Question #8: Can you tell me about any coaches you had that were very inspirational, and helped you get to where you are today?
All of the coaches I had throughout my career inspired and motivated me in some way, otherwise I still wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today. My last coach, Marcel Lacroix, had a huge part in getting me to where I am today. He taught me a lot on and off the ice, and was always there for me when I needed him to guide me in the right direction (physically, mentally, and psychologically).
Question #9: Is there someone who is very inspirational in your life?
My brother has always inspired and motivated me from day one, and still does today. I probably wouldn’t have gotten to where I have in my career if it wasn’t for his motivation at a younger age.
Question #10: Here at TeamPages, we have a lot of youth teams who aspire to become professional athletes. Do you have any specific advice you have for young players who have a dream of becoming a professional or Olympic Athlete one day?
First and foremost, you need to have goals and dreams (both short term and long term) to set a direction for yourself and your career. I always remember everyone saying “set goals, set goals” when I was a lot younger, and now I can really appreciate the value in having those goals and dreams to motivate you every step of the way.
Second, surround yourself with the people who will help you get to where you want. If you want to be the best, surround yourself with the best.
And third, give yourself every opportunity to succeed. If at the end of the day you did absolutely everything you could to improve, that’s all you can ask for. If you keep these three things in mind as you progress through your career, you’re well on your way!
Question #11: What do you do when you are not Speed Skating?
When I’m not speed skating I’m either in class or doing homework. It’s not easy taking classes while training full time, but it’s definitely doable!
Question #12: What are you currently taking in University, and what type of career do you want in the future?
I am doing a joint degree in Chemical Engineering and Economics at the University of Calgary. After my speed skating career, I want to pursue a professional career as a Chemical Engineer.
Question #13: Speed Skating can be a physical sport. What advice do you have for young players to mentally get back in the game if they bail during a race?
Even though high-performance sport, in general, is about winning and losing, you can always learn from every experience you go through – especially when you fall or lose. If you can keep that perspective and use your ‘failures’ as motivation instead of devastation, it’s always easier to get back up and get back in the game.
Question #14: What kind of diet do you eat? What’s your favourite food?
I don’t have a specific diet that I follow, rather I just try eating healthy and make sure I eat enough. It’s kind of like when I mentioned surrounding yourself with the best – if you don’t have junk food around then you won’t eat it!
One of my favourite foods has always been Tortellini Alfredo.
Question #15: If someone who has never Speed Skated before wanted to try it as a recreational sport, is that possible?
Of course it is; a lot of people speed skate recreationally.
Question #16: Will we see you in the next Olympics? What’s the next big race we should watch for you in?
4 years is a long ways away and a lot can happen between now and then, but if things keep going well then my plans will have me in Sochi, Russia for the next Olympic Winter Games. My next big set of races will be at the World Cups in November if I qualify.
Since I was an Audience Leader during the 2010 Winter Olympics, I had a chance to say Hi to Lucas during the Clossing Ceremonies. Above is the picture of us.
Please leave any comments or any follow-up questions you would like to know. Read more about him on his website: http://www.lucasmakowsky.com/
Keep playing hard,