February break feels like ages ago. Alpine skier Dinos Lefkaritis ‘19, however, remembers that week like it was yesterday. During break, Lefkaritis was in Pyeongchang County, South Korea representing his country, Cyprus, in the Olympic games. Despite a 10 hour time difference and an intensive training schedule, Lefkaritis took the time to share his remarkable Olympics experience with me.
The Bates Student: (BS) When did you find out that you got selected to represent Cyprus at the Olympics?
Dinos Lefkaritis (DL): I found out after the Olympic list was published on January 22. Until the deadline, I was racing with the national team in order to get the lowest average out of five races. Cyprus only got one spot for alpine skiing.
BS: Describe your thoughts before arriving to the Olympics.
DL: I was in Cyprus for some days before the trip to Korea for some training and preparations. I wanted to start this journey as soon as possible. I had a small taste from participating in the 2012 Youth Olympics. There was some nice anxiety going into something so big and new.
BS: How did you prepare yourself for this competition?
DL: I was following our usual training program at Bates. Due to an injury in the summer, I needed to take a semester off and have more time to train and prepare. I was in Austria since September for training and then from December I joined the national team for our qualification races. With the good news, we decided to take the winter semester off as well for the Olympics. I had also seven days of training in Korea before the competition which was focused on getting used to the snow and adjusting to the equipment.
BS: What was it like being the sole athlete from Cyprus? Describe your thoughts during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
DL: Walking into the stadium, especially in the Opening Ceremony, was a very special moment. I just wanted to hold the flag as high and proud as possible. The Opening Ceremony was the first moment when I fully realized that I was at the Olympics. The shows were amazing and also being together with all the athletes from so many different countries under one Olympic flame was incredible.
BS: What was it like training with all of the athletes before competition?
DL: Besides training at the slopes we spent a lot of time in the gym and the fitness centers at the Olympic village. As an athlete, it was the best environment because everybody had similar goals and interesting stories to tell. Our events were later in the schedule so we got to watch other competitions from TV’s all around the village. In the village there was also a recreational center where we had games like air hockey, table football, and the best, a massage chair room. The center was filled with TV’s so we mostly watched other events there.
BS: What was your most memorable moment from the experience?
DL: I distinctly remember the Olympic circles on the starting gates and the flags. Everything was set up perfectly. You feel an obligation to yourself and your country to leave that starting gate with everything you have. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as I hoped for as I fell in both of my events but I have no regrets.
BS: The most difficult?
The end of the Games. I could definitely stay much longer but all good things come to an end. I have so many memories and experiences that will stay with me forever.
BS: What’s next in your skiing career?
DL: Until the end of this season, I will continue with training and races in Europe. I am looking forward to joining Bates again for the college championship. Looking even further, I hope I have the opportunity to represent my country again in big competitions.
BS: What are your plans for when you return to Bates?
DL: I will continue pursuing the combined plan of Mechanical Engineering and Economics.
BS: Any final thoughts?
DL: I really want to thank the Bates Alpine ski team, my teammates and coach Michaela Holland for all the help and support in this journey. The last two years, we have been working together and contributed a lot in this achievement. I also want to thank my parents for being next to me in good and bad times and lastly the whole Bates community for the amazing support.