Anastasia Bucsis is the kind of person you can’t help but gravitate toward. An Olympic speed skater from Calgary, AB, Bucsis is remarkably talented, overwhelmingly kind and quite simply one of the coolest people you will ever meet (she played ping-pong against Sidney Crosby…just saying).
Bucsis first suited up for Team Canada during the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver and will be donning red and white once again at Sochi 2014. Before she left, I wanted to sit down with the Olympian to learn more about life on the ice.
THEREGION: Take us back to the beginning. How long have you been speed skating?
ANASTASIABUCSIS: I was introduced to the sport at the age of four by my father. I was born in 1989, and knowing that Calgary had the best facility from the 1988 Olympic Games, I think he wanted to capitalize on the opportunity. I actually wanted to be a figure skater, but my parents knew that I wouldn’t have the ideal body type for figure skating (I am 5’10) so they decided (somewhat randomly) to put me in speed skating.
REGION: It’s competition day. Walk us through your typical routine from the moment your alarm clock goes off to the moment you take your mark on the ice.
ANASTASIA: I usually wake up before my alarm clock because I’m so nervous; I’ll lie in bed, heart rate beating and check my usual social media outlets (I’m addicted, I know). I’ll then get up, drink lots of coffee, and try to eat a good breakfast. I don’t change it up, so I always have peanut butter and banana toast with two hard-boiled egg whites. I might check some YouTube clips if I want to see a certain aspect/area of a race…but mostly I’ll be very quiet, listen to my iPod and visualize my race over and over in my head.
Race day is always exhausting—both mentally and physically, but the adrenaline that comes from it? I’m alive!
I’ll get to the [Olympic] Oval about three hours in advance. I’ll start my off-ice warm up which takes an hour; doing some cardio, dynamic and static stretches, muscle activation drills, technical (skating) drills, running sprints/jumps, and then get my skates on. I’ll be on-ice doing a number of laps/drills that will make me race-ready for about 20 minutes. After that, I’ll go get another coffee, check my skates, spin my legs for a few minutes, and continue to visualize how and what exactly I want to do in the race until the gun goes off.
REGION: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
ANASTASIA: A Maya Angelou quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
REGION: You’ve accomplished a lot in your career. Looking back, do you have any standout moments?
ANASTASIA: There are so many, and most of them have nothing to do with speed skating! I feel as though the “best moments” in my career are usually the silly moments with friends/teammates that no one else sees. On the ice, I feel as though any race in which I let go of my need for success/a certain time/certain placing and just allow myself to enjoy the movement and allowing myself to FLY across the ice—that’s usually the best.
I have found that the more you let go of your need for success, the more likely it will come to you.
REGION: Music is a large part of your race-day routine. What’s on your playlist?
ANASTASIA: I just downloaded the new Lady Gaga and Beyoncé albums. I’m shameless with the Top 40! It really depends on my mood; usually, I skate my best when I’m happy-go-lucky (so Top 40 is always a good thing!) But Joe Cocker’s “Have a Little Faith in Me” has gotten me through some tough weekends… If a song resonates with me before a race, I’ll literally have it on repeat for 48 hours.
REGION: It’s your day off and you have zero commitments or obligations. What will you get up to?
ANASTASIA: I wish I could sleep in, but I’ll probably be up by 8:30. I’ll drink some coffee, lounge around, maybe read a little or watch Netflix, then I’ll get up and do some ‘real life’ errands. Rest days are just as important as training days because our bodies become so exhausted that it’s essential to reset and realign—both mentally and physically. Usually I’m a pretty big coach potato… the life of an athlete is extremely glamorous.
REGION: Sochi is only a week away! Describe how you’re feeling in five words:
ANASTASIA: Excited, nervous, proud, focused, energized. My coach always describes me as a “lion sunning herself,” so I’m trying to lay low, rest up and get ready to pounce!
We’ll be cheering you on Anastasia! Send her your wishes by following her on Twitter.
Feature image sourced on Google.