Training tips and injury advice from the champions

As part of the Athlete365 Lausanne, the ‘Chat with Champions’ series at the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG)sees some of sport’s most successful winter Olympians share their experiences and provide expert advice on what it takes to make it to the top. First up: injury prevention and training tips.

● Chinese speed skater Hong Zhang believes a short-term approach is the best way of staying motivated through injury
● French figure skater Nathalie Péchalat stresses the importance of weekend rest and recovery
● For Canadian figure skater Patrick Chan, technology can help overcome the solitude of training alone

The ‘Chat with Champions’ series at Lausanne 2020 kicked off with a fascinating discussion involving three highly decorated winter sports athletes on training and injury prevention methods. For Chinese speed skater and Olympic gold medallist Hong Zhang, the key to mentally overcoming an injury setback is simple: think small.

“The extent to which you should push your body to the limit really depends on what kind of sport you do,” she says. “With speed skating you need to train nearly every day and push yourself, but not too hard.

“The way to stay motivated during injury is to think short-term rather than long-term. Don’t think in terms of months, seasons or years – just take it day-by-day. It’s important not to look too far ahead .”

Enjoy the weekends
For French figure skater Nathalie Péchalat, the weekend rest and recovery period proved to be enormously beneficial in the long run – despite the temptation to train as often as possible all week.

“I used to train from Monday morning until midday on Saturday, but then my trainer decided to introduce rest days on Saturdays and Sundays,” she explains. “At first I didn’t agree, but after a while when I’d go to training on Monday morning after two days off, I was so hungry and motivated to train that it was more efficient to do five days of training followed by a weekend to rest than what I did before. It was a good piece of advice.”

Stay connected
Many of you have dedicated years of training to reach the required level to compete at Lausanne 2020, and the nature of some training programmes means that you may spend long periods of time alone in order to hone your skills. Canadian figure skater and Olympic gold medallist Patrick Chan has some sage advice for modern-day athletes on how to stay focused and beat the mental challenges of training alone.

“I experienced training by myself when I left high school in Canada to go and train in the United States,” he reveals. “I was training in Florida for two years, and as a figure skater in Florida there’s no-one there, so it was very hard. It’s not easy, but with the technology available these days you can watch what other competitors are doing to try to keep yourself motivated. Have a good playlist as well – choose music that pumps you up.”

Did you miss this Chat with Champions session? No worries, we’ve got you covered. There are more sessions in Lausanne on 18 and 19 January from 8-9pm in the Yodli Cafe, and 19 January in St Moritz.