Ski mountaineering world-champion Mireia Miró: “Technology has eliminated the feeling of wildness in nature”
Mireia Miró visits Barcelona a few times a year. Despite not feeling uncomfortable in an urban environment, where she grew up, she spends 90% of her time in the mountains. One of the reasons for being in Barcelona is to deal with media. She sometimes swaps mountain marathons for interview marathons. But it doesn’t bother her: “I think it is also important to tell the world what we do and what are our principles”.
Barcelona (CNA).- Mireia Miró visits Barcelona a few times a year. Despite not feeling uncomfortable in an urban environment, where she grew up, she spends 90% of her time in the mountains. One of the reasons for being in Barcelona is to deal with media. She sometimes swaps mountain marathons for interview marathons. But it doesn’t bother her: “I think it is also important to tell the world what we do and what are our principles”. Miró is now 24 years old but she has been at the top of the rankings of ski mountaineering and trail running since 2011. In fact, she was the ski mountaineering world champion that year. Over the last two years she has only been beaten by French competitor, Laetitia Roux. She lived and trained with Kilian Jornet, the world’s best sky runner, and with Marc Pinsach, another high-profile Catalan ski mountaineer.
Do you agree that there has been a boom in endurance sports like the ones you practise?
Sure. We see much more people training and going out to run today. It is positive because we make a living from these sports. If it grows, it is always beneficial for brands and sport in general. But, we have to be careful. We mustn’t lose our values, the mountain values. They have been passed on through the years and we must keep them alive.
How can you explain such popularity?
There are two reasons. First, fresh air is on our doorstep. It is gratifying as well as cheap. You only need a pair of trainers. But it is also about what I call ‘taming the wild’, an idea related to new technologies. You can bring your mobile phone wherever you want so you can always call the emergency services. That eliminates the feeling of wildness in the mountains. Some years ago if something happened to you nobody would know. Nowadays, if you twist your ankle, you call and they come to rescue you.
So are we losing respect for mountain values?
That’s why we have to pass our old values on. I hope in a few years this boom will calm down. To enjoy nature we must take care of it.
What are these values for you?
On the one hand, there are sporting values. You face a challenge because you love it, but you need effort, sacrifice and determination. You also must learn to take risks and to lose. On the other hand, there are these mountain values I am talking about and above all, to respect and love nature.
Can you imagine yourself doing anything else?
Someday I will be forced to give up competing. When your whole life is devoted to one specific thing, you must have something else ready to replace it. If not, you will be shattered by your own world.
How do you motivate yourself?
Like in all jobs, there are some days you don’t want to wake up. But good days make up for the bad ones. When training I always think of my goal. It can be a race, a personal result, the mountain itself… For example, in summer when it is hot and you are wearing a T-shirt you have to imagine that you are going to compete in winter although it seems far off. For me it is really important to imagine yourself in the worst situation. You must think that the race is going to be really bad, that you will feel really bad. All races are incredibly painful, if you don’t prepare for the worst it is easy to break down.
To quote Kilian: where are your limits?
There are different kinds of limits. I don’t really like to talk about limits. We progress; we change. If you find your limits, it means that you are dead. The point is to progress by, discovering new things or new skills. I am competing in nearly the same races every year, but my attitude changes each season too. At the beginning you have high hopes, later you start to think about your results. There is always something different.
So how are you feeling about next season?
I am really looking forward to racing next year because for the last two years I didn’t feel I was at my best level. It is a challenge I have set myself. I can’t wait to compete in the World Cup and the European Championship again.
In Mezzlama, in Italy, one of the most important races in the season, your team had to give up. What did you feel at that moment?
When I compete alone I never give up because I don’t feel good. But when you are in a team the goal is not to win, it is to cross the finish line together. I would have preferred to finish the race even in five hours, but we are a team.
So do you prefer competing alone?
At first I wanted to show to myself and the world what I was able to do, so I preferred racing alone. But nowadays I enjoy being part of a team. I like to combine both.
Thinking about Kilian Jornet, Marc Pinsach and yourself do you feel that the mountains have a special relationship with Catalan athletes?
Catalonia is working really well in this field. The Ski Mountaineering Technical Center is doing a great job. They train athletes from 14 to 23 years old but they are not only training, but also educating them in mountain values. For example, if you want to be there you must pass your studies. Working hard is the most important thing for them. I remember when I arrived and they told me that they didn’t want a Ferrari; they preferred an old SEAT 600 that worked the whole day.