A passion for snow
Enthusiasm, dedication and a love for her sport are just some of the qualities that fired Eva Samkova to snowboard cross gold at Sochi 2014.
Triple world junior champion
Eva Samkova was born in the Czech town of Vrchlabi, at the foot of the Krkonose Mountains, right on the Polish border. Also known as the Giant Mountains, the range is a popular winter sports destination, and it was there that Samkova began snowboarding at the age of six. Though she excelled at freestyle aerials to begin with, a string of injuries forced her to switch events and try her hand at snowboard cross. It proved to be an inspired decision, with the young Czech winning three world junior titles: in 2010 in Cardrona (NZL), 2011 in Valmanenco (ITA) and 2013 in Erzurum (TUR).
Success in Sochi
Samkova was in superb form going into Sochi 2014, having secured back-to-back World Cup wins in the weeks leading up to the Games. The smiling Czech maintained her momentum on the slopes of Rosa Khutor, proving too fast for her rivals as she swept to gold.
Explaining her recipe for success at Sochi, Samkova said: “My coach told me that the best thing I could do was to be first away at the start.” And she put those words into action, qualifying for the elimination round in first place and then winning both her quarter-final and semi-final. After taking the lead in the final right on the very first jump, Samkova never looked back, the camera fixed on her helmet recording every turn and jump as she surged away to win gold from Canada’s Dominique Maltais, with France’s Chloe Trespeuch taking the bronze.
It was not just Samkova’s superior technique that set her apart from the rest at Sochi, but her distinctive ‘warpaint’ – a moustache. After claiming gold, the 20-year-old explained why she had chosen to sport the facepaint: “It’s a lucky charm. It’s my lucky moustache, and as this is a special day, I decided to paint it in the national colours. It all started in La Molina at the 2011 World Championships, which were my first. I painted a moustache on and I finished fifth.”
Loving every minute
Despite her intensive schedule, which features training sessions in the gym and on the slopes, countless flights and a life lived away from her family and friends, Samkova says she is loving every minute of her career. “I don’t find it tough,” she muses. “It’s fun for me, and I love travelling around the world. My parents support me and they want me to carry on in this sport. I’m young and I love it.”