Alpine skier Marc Oliveras is currently competing in his second Olympics, but his first since being diagnosed with lupus, a serious chronic condition that can cause the body to attack its own tissues and organs. The 26-year-old represents Andorra, a tiny nation between Spain and France that is a well-known skiing hub in Europe. He made his Olympic debut at the 2014 Sochi Games and is competing again in Pyeongchang. Oliveras took some time out between races to talk with Vita about his experience and how he balances Olympic dreams with his condition.
What advice do you have for people with a serious chronic condition to attain their goals?
I think all people can do what they want to do! You have to believe you can do it and work for it. You certainly have to take care of yourself and make sure you balance your rest and work. For example, I can’t go 100 percent every day, but I try to go as hard as I can when I race. You can’t do it alone and you have to trust your doctors, even outside of sports. Whether it’s your job or spending time with family or friends, you have to make choices in when you want to expend your energy and when you want to rest. One thing is for sure, you have to make time for the things that make you happy.
Has overcoming lupus made this Olympics a more meaningful experience?
I was diagnosed with lupus after my first Olympics in Sochi and it was not something I expected. It was a very difficult time because I had to stop everything I was doing, including the things I love like skiing and sports, in order to focus on my disease. After a six month break from skiing, I got back on the slopes and was improving myself every year while also trying to understand my condition and all of the physical changes that it has brought on. Now I’m happy to be at the Olympics again. Knowing that I have overcome this condition had given me an inner strength and allows me to ski more aggressively. When I’m on the slope I don’t even think about lupus.
What is your next goal?
I don’t know yet! I plan to take things year-by-year and see what happens. Right now, I am trying to enjoy these Olympics, do my best, finish the season and go from there.