By Michael Mastarciyan
When you grow up in a place like Siberia there’s a good chance you’re pretty comfortable on snow.
This is definitely the case for 22-year-old rising Russian tech star Sergei Maytakov.
Maytakov began making headlines in 2010 when he won a bronze medal at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in slalom.
A regular on the podium on home soil since 2009, Maytakov has won medals at Russian nationals in every event except slalom.
His biggest success so far however, happened last season on the Europa Cup circuit when he won the giant slalom title and finished third in overall points after capturing four podiums – three of them victories in GS.
While Maytakov is not a full-fledged medal threat for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia – he does have ski fans excited in his homeland.
We caught up with Maytakov, who is currently training in New Zealand, recently for quick talk about his career so far and what lies ahead…
MM: Sergei, you grew up in Siberia, a place most people think is cold all the time. Is this just a myth or is there truth to it?
SM: It’s partially true. For example last winter it was -50 Celsius. But in summer it was approximately plus 35 Celsius. So it is true as everybody thinks, in winter it is cold.
MM: The coldest temperature I’ve ever skied in was -64 C (wind-chill temperature) at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. What’s the coldest temp you’ve ever skied or raced in?
SM: I can’t say exactly but approximately -30 Celsius when I trained and raced.
MM: What’s the best way to stay warm when you are skiing in really cold conditions – any secrets you want to share?
SM: No special secrets. The warmer you get dressed, the better you are.
MM: What would the best time to visit Siberia be if you were a tourist?
SM: Winter and summer are both good for tourism.
MM: Are you good at any other winter sports – like hockey maybe?
SM: I like hockey, but I have no possibility to play it, so I’ve never had any success in hockey.
MM: You won the Europa Cup giant slalom title last season – what did that feel like?
SM: I was glad.
MM: Did you have time to celebrate afterward?
MM: What about when you got back to Russia, any celebrations there?
SM: Certainly. I arrived home and we celebrated many days and nights.
MM: Is giant slalom your favourite event? If yes, why?
SM: I don’t have any favourite event. I am just faster in GS.
MM: You came in third in the overall Europa Cup standings, what does that do for your confidence going into next season?
SM: It has a positive influence for sure.
MM: Do you see yourself as all-rounder or tech specialist?
SM: At the moment a tech specialist. I don’t know for the future.
MM: What’s on your schedule for the season to come? Europa Cup, World Cup, a mix of both?
SM: Both, but World Cup races are difficult so I must get better prepared.
MM: You’ll be skiing in front of a home crowd at the Winter Olympic Game in Sochi in 2014 what will this feel like, do you think you’ll be nervous?
SM: If I get a chance to race there I will be a little nervous.
MM: Did you have any ski racing idols growing up?
SM: No, I didn’t have idols but I knew about all the top champions.
MM: What’s the most important thing you learned last season?
SM: I learned how to ski slalom and giant slalom a little faster.
MM: What’s the best piece of ski racing advice you’ve ever been given?
SM: “Ski more active!”
MM: Do you have any advice for young racers?
SM: Don’t get too upset when things don’t go well.
MM: Russian President Vladimir Putin is a skier and a fan of ski racing, have you met him before?
SM: No I have never met him.
MM: If you could ride up a chairlift with any ski racer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
SM: I would choose any famous ski racer and ask him how he managed to get to the top of the sport, and if he had any regrets about the time he spent getting there.
MM: Have you had time for a vacation this off-season? Do anything exciting?
SM: Yes I had some time off. I went fishing and hunting and had a great vacation.