Not many men can say they have travelled at 130 miles per hour without motorised assistance. British speed skier Jan Farrell can.
On Monday, in Amneville, France, Jan will attempt to become the fastest man in history on an indoor downhill slope. The record currently stands at 211.02km/h (131.12mph).
The 2014 World Cup Downhill Champion has teamed up with Manchester’s premier snow venue, Chill Factore, where he was hard at work on Tuesday.
Speaking to MM, Jan said: “I used to race alpine, then skier-cross, and I always say that wasn’t fast enough. Speed is a way of life for me, I love everything about it.
“I always used to straight line any piste I could get my hands on when I was a kid. I think my parents were quite worried.”
Jan, who is currently the third fastest skier in the world, has set his sights on a staggering seven world records over the next few years, with the next attempt due in late October.
Describing the sensation of travelling at such colossal speeds, Jan said: “It’s a feeling of freedom and stability. The inertia that you have when you stop is when you actually realise how fast you were going.
“My mind is practically blank and I’m concentrating 100% on what I’m doing. Normally my mind is going at a thousand miles an hour, and it’s one of the only moments in life that I am truly relaxed, albeit with a bit of adrenaline.
“It’s a sort of peaceful chaos.”
Speed skiing is the fastest non-motorised sport in the world, but despite the astronomical speeds competitors reach, it is surprisingly safe. There are only three or four competitive falls on average across a world cup season, and injuries are usually minor.
Jan himself took up the sport after breaking his knee in a skier-cross competition in 2009, causing him to miss out on the Winter Olympics. It was at this point that he made the transition into speed skiing, and he has not looked back.
Despite the exhilarating nature of the sport, it receives remarkably little coverage in the media, and Jan believes this is largely down to the difficulty of capturing the excitement with a television camera.
“We need to raise awareness of our sport, but to show speed on camera is a challenging task. I am working on that together with the FIS (International Ski Federation) and some really interesting partners, like GoPro.
“We want to reinvent the sport and capture the speed on camera. It is a somewhat unexplored sport, and I hope that this will bring in some new athletes.”
Born in Lancaster to a British father and a Czech mother, Jan has spent most of his life in Spain, but still has family in the North West and feels a strong connection to the area.
“I feel at home here, Manchester is a reference point for me, I’ve got family here and I certainly consider myself a Northerner,” he said.
Jan’s routine is a somewhat hectic one, as he juggles roughly 250 days a year in the gym and 90 days on the slopes with running his own business, which he started aged 17, and mentoring students at the IE Business School in Madrid.
Alongside this, he has also begun running his own training camps for would-be speedsters, whom he coaches and mentors for free. The first was held in Andorra in January.
Jan issued a rallying cry to aspiring speed skiers: “I want to make a call to young athletes, either ex-Alpine racers or high level skiers who would like to try speed skiing.
“I need more people on the British team as there are only two or three of us that are regularly going to races and it would be great to see some new faces.”
He is also exploring the possibility of running a training camp here in Manchester to help initiate more British talent into the sport.
“It’s very nice that Chill Factore have invited me here to bring speed skiing to England for the first time. It’s a lot of fun, and I hope it helps promote my sport in this country.”
NORTHERN GRIT: Lancaster-born Jan Farrell has spent most of his life in Spain but loves returning to his homeland.
Anyone interested in taking up speed skiing can contact Jan via his website www.janfarrell.com
He is also interested in talking to aerodynamics experts who could help shave off those all-important milliseconds.