Stanimir Belomazhev is one of the most talented athletes in the demanding discipline of Ski Orienteering. With Krasnoyarsk and the World Championships in the horizon, he talks about the present and sets the major goals for a season starting soon.
I would start by asking you to present yourself. Who is Stanimir Belomazhev?
Stanimir Belomazhev (S. B.) - My name is Stanimir Belomazhev and I was born in Troyan – a small town located in Central Bulgaria. I spend most of my time at camps and competitions, so I can’t tell where I live exactly. I love spending my spare time among nature with my friends. I am also a big fan of music and basketball. For sure I don't like to wait!
How did you meet Orienteering?
S. B. - My father introduced me to orienteering. He and my mother are cross-country skiing and orienteering coaches. My sports biography starts when I was 2 years old and my parents took me skiing for the first time. I won my first medals from National Championships in cross-country skiing at the age of 7. I examined closely orienteering at the age of 12. I like it as a sport because it combines a mental process and endurance. And I do it for 16 years.
You presented yourself quite early in the international scene, skiing in your first WSOC at the age of 17 in Finland, 2005. Do you still feel the emotions of those days in Levi/Kittilä?
S. B. - It’s very interesting because, right now, I am 60 km away from the place where WSOC 2005 was held. I do my early ski preparation in Muonio. I remember everything from Levi as if it was yesterday. I was really excited because I had the opportunity to participate in the World Championships for men and women. I think that my best performance was at the Long Distance, where I finished in the nineteenth place. The course was developed on the system one-man-relay and it was the longest orienteering competition for me until that moment. I was very satisfied and happy because I not only finished it, but I also managed to get in the top 20 at the age of 17.
Along the last 12 years you reached a large number of podiums in the most important SkiO competitions. Would you like to name some of the most significant moments of your career so far?
S. B. - During the last 12 years I really managed to achieve significant results from international competitions and to experience unforgettable moments. One of these moments was my second place in the Sprint distance at the World Championships in Hammar, Norway. I made a single mistake then for the most stupid control point of the entire course. I lost more than 10 seconds and Andrey Lamov won with a 4-second advantage. Another unforgettable moment was the European Championships in Madona, Latvia. I managed to win the Sprint distance and get my first European title on my birthday and with 1 second ahead of Peter Arnesson.
Rost, Lamov, Tunnis, are names that you have been struggling with since the very first moments. How do you see this particular fight? How deep is your rivalry?
S. B. - They, along with Peter Arnesson, Hans Jorgen Kvale, Lars Moholdt and the ageless and not giving up Eduard Khrennikov, are competitors I have complied with for all these years. I think that I managed to become what I am now just because of them. These single combats motivates me the most to continue to train eagerly, because I know that we will meet again and that the battle won’t be easy at all. It's always a great honour and pleasure for me when I compete with such splendid competitors.
Is there an athlete that you see as an idol, a source of inspiration? What does he have that you don’t?
S. B. - As a person who is interested in so many different sports, I have a lot of idols that I admire. From the winter sports, there are competitors like Bjorn Daehlie, Ole Einar Bjordalen, Petter Northog, Hermann Maier and others. Maybe what they all have in common is that they are outstanding professionals and this is what I miss. The fact that Ski Orienteering is not an Olympic sport and there is not enough media interest in it, as well as the lack of enough sponsors, causes athletes to do their best with limited resources. That’s why I claim that we are not real professionals, despite the fact that we treat this sport and the training process as such. From the Ski Orienteering, the competitor I admire most is Staffan Tunis. He is always smiling and extremely concentrated in what he does during competition.
It's quite interesting to see that you took part, since 2008, in seven out of nine editions of the World MTB Orienteering Championships and that you reached, at least, one result in the top 20 in all individual distances. How important is MTB orienteering in your sport career and how does it help you to be a better ski orienteer?
S. B. - Mountain Bike Orienteering is a great sport, but I never had great expectations from my participations in MTBO competitions. I consider that MTB Orienteering is the best way to prepare the ski orienteering season, both technically and physically. First of all, because MTB trainings are one of the most essential trainings for me during the summer and second, because the method of orienteering is similar to ski orienteering.
You started 2015/2016 with two second places but you've never been able to reach the gold along the season, finishing fourth both in the World Cup overall and in the IOF World Ranking. How do you evaluate your work/results?
S. B. - 2015/2016 was one of my best seasons ever. I was concentrated on the World student Championships in Tula, Russia and the European Championships in Obertilliach, Austria. The World Cup competitions were not important for me. I think I managed to start the season in a very good way with two second places in Ylläs, Finland. After that I managed to add another second place in Oberwiesenthal, Germany. I won three of three gold medals in the World student championship and I think that this was a great achievement. Unfortunately I got sick after that and didn't have enough strength to fight for a fourth European title in Austria. On this European championships there was a competitor that was distinguished for classes from the others and that was Lars Moholds and for which I want to congratulate him one more time.
The season will start in Finland, with the European Championships, having in the World Championships, in Russia, the highest moment. What do you expected from both events?
S. B. - Along the season I'll have three main competitions where I'll be focused on. These are the European championship in Finland, SICM World Winter Games and the World Championships in Krasnoyarsk. I hope, above all, to be healthy and to have no injuries, to be in my best shape right for the World Championships.
Can you tell me about your preparation?
S. B. - My preparation this year is going very well. I was able to do some early ski camps on the glacier of Ramsau am Dachstein, Austria. I also did two quite nice altitude camps on 2000 m in Belmeken, Bulgaria. At the moment, I am in Muonio, Finland and the ski conditions are very good. I planned with my father and personal coach to participate in several cross-country skiing competitions until the end of November and after that to focus entirely on the ski orienteering with camp and competitions in Sjusjøen, Norway, as well as starts in Sweden.
Are we going to see you reaching a World title in 2017? Will it be in the Sprint or in the Long Distance?
S. B. - Indeed, this is my dream since I started doing ski orienteering as a sport. I strongly desire to achieve it and I think that there is no better place than Krasnoyarsk. I like Russian terrains and the way of treatment of the network tracks for ski orienteering. And whether it will be Sprint or Long Distance – what could be better than to be both?
Now that a new season is about to start, I would like to invite you to share your biggest wish.
S. B. - I want to wish both for me and for my competitors and friends to be healthy and have no accidents during the new season. I hope to have fast skis and lot of strength in order to be faster. I also want to wish for me to be very concentrated and motivated in order to achieve the goals I've set.
[Photo: Lithuanian Orienteering Federation / orienteering.lt]