Blaž Jarc – From Chicken-Crasher To Pro-Cyclist
No worries, we didn’t turn into a sports-website and you’re still on bushwah! even if one could think this is procycling.com or eurosport.com. So what the heck is going on here? As you might know, we Wisenheimers are always interested in crossing borders and bringing things into relations that might be not the most obvious ones. So, when the pro-cycling season started a couple of weeks ago, I thought it could be a nice idea to talk to one of these daredevils on wheels to get to know more about their motivation, their philosophy and their lifes as pro sportsmen.
I contacted Team NetApp, an upcoming – and currently the most successful – German cycling team (UCI Professional Continental) which was established in 2010 and aims for the highest ranked Pro Tour licence within the next years and asked for an interview. One of their drivers, Blaž Jarc, who just joined the team, immediately agreed to answer some questions. Here we go:
Blaž, welcome to bushwah! Let’s talk about your personal background first: you were born in 1988 in Slowenia, started your professional career in 2007 and joined Team NetApp recently. Please tell us a little bit about yourself first: Where exactly are you from? What is your family background and do you remember your first time on a bike?
I come from a small village, Dolenji Podborst, which is in the south-east of Slovenia. My father is a tradesman and my mother is a hairdresser. Beside their jobs, they also work on the small farm we have. I have a 21-year-old sister and a 12 year-old-brother.
As a kid with a lot of energy, I spent a lot of time on the bike. And of course I also crashed a lot. Once I hit a chicken going full speed downhill and crashed really hard. Also I was building up some ramps and then measured the distance I flew afterwards. When I was twelve years old, I even fell into a river together with my bike. It was in January and I barely pulled myself and the bike out and then had to do two kilometers home at minus ten degrees celsius, wet from tip to toe.
A friend and a former teammate of mine moved into our region. He was really succesfull, bringing trophies from winning races to school.
At the time I was a track runner and wanted to try something new. I asked for the phone number of his trainer and that’s how it all started.
Has there been a specific event or moment in your life which made it clear for you that you wanted to become a professional racing cyclist?
There never was a specific moment. The desire of being a pro-cyclist was always present since I started cycling.
Young and upcoming athletes often have heroes in their sport – other sportsmen they look up to and they admire. Who was your special cycling hero when you began?
My cycling hero was and still is Janez Brajkovič (author’s note: Janez Brajkovič Slovenian procyclist who started his career as a pro in 2005 when he joined the Discovery Channel Team). His approach to the sport is incredible. It motivates me to give my everything.
As an aspiring pro-cyclist, you needed to train a lot in your youth. How did these circumstances affect your youth in terms of meeting friends, hanging around in clubs, drinking, going to concerts and parties?
I feel that I didn’t miss out a lot because we always had fun during the season. The motivation to train hard came from the desire for good results, the success led to new motivation to train and be focused on the sport even more. And it’s possible to have a quality time with my friends without alcohol.
Dave Zabriskie just mentioned in an interview that he was a big fan of “Captain America” and even lend his nickname from him. Who were your non-cycling heroes and are they still your idols?
Well, I have my non-cycling heroes. They were comics from the Slovenian artist Miki Muster. There have been three animals as main characters. “Curly tail the fox”, “Hungry the wolf” and “Hard shell the turtle”. They have to go through various adventures, which are always very exiting to read. Once you start, it’s hard to put it away, because the content is very rich. If I will have kids one day, they will read it, too.
I also had a thing for birds from the age of 9-14. I knew a great deal about birdlife in Slovenia and was also a member of the Slovenian birdwatching asociation, visited symposiums, participated in migration counts, collected feathers, egg shells. I still find them fascinating. When I’m an old man I can picture myself going through bushes with a big lens camera trying to get the perfect picture.
To be a successful cyclist also means to be noticed by the media, to become well-known and maybe becoming a hero for others, too. How do you cope with this responsibility and how does it feel to give autographs and to be regarded as an idol?
I am honored to be a role model and give autographs to people. Especially to children. Its a rewarding feeling.
Your team, Team NetApp, got a wildcard for the 2012 Giro d’Italia. How does it feel like to participate in such a legendary race and be a part of it?
To be given the opportunity to participate in the Giro d’Italia is a great honor and a big boost of motivation for all of us. It’s a big chance to prove ourselves. Those of us who still haven’t participate in a “grand tour” can take one step forward as riders. A three week race gives you endurance and a lot of experience.
I just talked to Calvin Wan, who is a well-known stunt- and race driver (i.e. he took part in Fast & Furious 3). For him, drifting with a race car is a kind of art which he compares to the traditional japanese art of brush-painting in terms of movement and beauty. He even made an iphone game about it. Do you think, cycling can be regarded as a kind of art, too? If so, what are the artistic parts of it?
Being a succesfull athlete and cyclist demands a lot of precision, listening to your body, concentration throughout the whole year. It’s is also a kind of art to control your bike at great speeds, dangerous corners, sometimes at a heartrate of almost 200 beats/minute, conserving energy, choosing the right moment to attack and make the best out of your effort. It demands the whole person.
The German band “Kraftwerk” released their single “Tour de France” in 1983 and sang about “Comrades and friendship” in the peloton. Is this view of the professional cycling scene still up to date?
An extreme sport like cycling brings out the best and the worst of people. Friendships made in extreme conditions are good, strong friendships.
Talking more about music: many athletes use music for motivational reasons. Which influence does music have on you in your daily routine and before or after competitions?
With music you can express all your feelings. Like those, it changes constantly. In the morning, I usually listen to chillout and lounge to get me started. On a training ride I like electronic music (liquid drum n’bass, tech house, techno) the most. It gives me the rythm to keep my pace high. In my free time I like jazz, dubstep, reggae, a bit of everything. When I’m away from home for a long time I listen a lot to Slovenian artists to ease my homesickness.
Well, Blaž, let’s disclose the secret and tell us your top-5 tracks on your ipod, please!
- Touch & Go – Life’s a beach
- The Pixies – Where is my mind
- Awolnation – Sail
- Kick bong – Something better
- Freestylers feat. Belle Humble – Cracks (Flux Pavillion Remix)
What are your goals and plans for 2012?
I’m mainly focused on the spring races. I want to win a big race, be healthy and help my team to get good results.
Finally, please complete the following sentences:
- If I could only participate in one last race … it should be in the rainbow jersey.
- Cycling means to me … a lifestyle surrounded by great people.
- My biggest fear … is to be 2nd in a really important race for a couple of centimetres.
- Last night I dreamed … of walking up wooden stairs attached to nothing between clouds
- Please, never ask me to … cook you anything else then rice or pasta.
- If I wasn’t a pro cyclist … I would probably be an ornithologyst.
Blaž, thank you very much for participating in this interview and good luck for the season!
photos: www.cyclefilm.com (3) & www.Roth-Foto.de (1)