YOG on the Road to Sochi 2014 talks to Olympic Solidarity skier Dinos Lefkaritis

He got his first taste of the Olympic stage at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, and now 17-year-old Cypriot Skier Dinos Lefkaritis has received an Olympic Solidarity scholarship to help him achieve his dream of competing at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014.

How did you get started in skiing?I first skied at the age of six in the mountains of Troodos in Cyprus. I was immediately interested in the sport and every weekend or holiday we would drive up to the mountains. It started as a hobby but after a few years I participated in my first national race. The results of that race showed me that I had potential to develop into a good skier and be able to compete more.

What was it like to compete in the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck?It was a unique experience that I will always remember. Everything was very well organised and I met many athletes and people. The organisers succeeded in passing the Olympic spirit on to us.

What are your targets for the future?To achieve good results in races and develop into the best I can be. It is a tough challenge but one of my goals is to continue my Olympic career in Sochi in 2014. It would require a lot of work, training and preparation, but to compete there would be the biggest moment in my skiing career. Away from skiing, a big part of my life is education and my target is to study at a top university.

How has your Olympic Solidarity Scholarship helped you?It has given me the opportunity to train more, prepare better for this ski season, become more competitive and of course to keep motivated and focused to qualify for Sochi in 2014. The scholarship has been a great help for an athlete like me who has to travel a lot for training and races.

What is a typical training week like for you?I train in the gym regularly; both aerobic and strength training are important for skiing. We have ski training every weekend during the ski season in Cyprus, plus some weekdays, depending on the conditions of the snow and my school obligations. I am also part of my local basketball team, with which I train three to four days a week. This helps a lot in my physical conditioning as well. Another sport I like is water skiing, which is also very good strength training.

Away from training, what do you like to do in your spare time?I listen to music, watch movies, see friends and play video games. I am a very outgoing person so I like going out and enjoy meeting up with my friends.

Who are your sporting heroes and why?I have always admired Michael Jordan, who I believe is one of the top sportsmen ever. A skier I have always admired is Bode Miller (Olympic champion Alpine ski-racer, USA) because he proved that anything is possible and everything is achievable. Athletes that I also respect are Andre Myhrer (Alpine ski-racer, Sweden), Mario Matt (three-time world champion Alpine ski-racer, Austria) and Ted Ligety (Olympic champion Alpine ski-racer, USA).