When you meet in an Impact Hub Prague, you might await a rather exceptional or unusual speaker. This time, both of them were. Šárka Strachová is not really known to German public. Most Czechs have seen her, but only wearing a helmet. She is a professional slalom racer, the most successful Czech female downhill skier ever. And Michael Romancov is – well – a geostrategist. Interesting career choices, right?
Let’s start with Šárka Strachová. After a few minutes, I have to agree, I have been strongly prejudiced. Most sportsmen I have ever heard or seen on screen talked in bare sentences and did not say much more than „I’m so happy, I shot the goal“. Strachová is different. Fluent, calm, business-like, convincing. She describes her mission as a regular „job“. She travels to work, trains hard, relaxes. Eight hours a day as a regular employee. The only difference is, that her „office“ is more fancy.
All her work is about energy and the difficult ability to concentrate it into only 20 (!) minutes a year. That is about the time she spends competing with her rivals in the important downhill races. One round takes about one minute. No time to act tactically, every little mistake is fatal. Every second decides if you end up as a winner, or a loser. But it is not only energy Strachová is talking about. She rather seeks after balance. As her trainer Klaus Mayrhofer says, skiing is a complex sport. It is not just about strength or endurance, but also very much about mental power. Šárka Strachová, who says, that skiing is for her not the goal, but the path, seems to have found her personal optimum. After all her ups and downs (e.g. painful break with her father, who was her first trainer, and serious brain disease) she knows, how to value relaxation and personal happiness. She is obviously at the peak. And knows, how to share her positive energy with others.
Michael Romancov’s task is not to be optimistic, but realistic. His playground is not a mountain slope, but the whole wide world. His task is to see more than the obvious, to follow pipelines, weapon flows, market routes and power shifts. To reveal the string pullers behind daily politics. To discuss all of it and predict future developments. It does sound important, but not really fun. But in Romancov’s interpretation it is. And it always was – I used to attend his lectures already at the university. Romancov belongs to scholars, who do not tend to speak in hundreds of foreign words. He rather tries to explain his points on illustrative examples. Who would think, that it is possible to compare Russian national temperament to Goblins’ from Harry Potter books? Romancov can do it. He is convinced that we, the Europeans, should leave the widespread conviction that Russians, who look like us, are like us. And start to treat them with all due respect as a different culture.
A controversial thesis, obviously. In Romancov’s view, the acceptance of Russian national specifics is the first step to overcome the current deadlock in the relations between Moscow and the Western world and a key to successful negotiations in the future.
A lot to rethink on a hot summer afternoon. On a day, when many kids and adults leave for holidays. When everybody is looking forward to enjoying the rare free time and hoping to recharge their own personal batteries.