The story of Pavel Ševčík, who was originally from Brno, will move you, but also inspire you and motivate you, just like his sporting achievements have motivated other disabled people. “Why did I continue to race on skis even after having my arm amputated? First, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it in spite of that. And second, I wanted to motivate all those who have been dealt a similar fate and are on the verge of giving up,” says the long-time manager of the Josefův Důl water reservoir about his destiny.
His path to the Jizerské Mountains started fifty years ago during his military service. He’d always loved mountains, but as a man born in Brno his local mountains were the Jeseníky. “Hiking in the mountains is something I’ve always loved. I was able to walk 100 kilometres. I was fit thanks to playing basketball and I didn’t have a problem with any sport. I was interested in Jizerská 50, but it was too far for me from Brno,” he says about his early years.
One day on his way to the army base he met a beautiful girl who later became his love and his wife. “I saw her on the platform, she was tall and I liked that, I was tall myself. We started talking and we’ve been talking ever since,” says Pavel Ševčík about the start of their romantic relationship. Their marriage has lasted for almost 50 years.
But they don’t live in the South Moravian town, but in the Jizerské Mountains. “My wife is from Jablonec and because I wanted to live in the mountains, I followed her here. I was lucky and found a job offer in the newspaper. I didn’t get the position of an engineer at the Souš reservoir, but because I had studied at an engineering school I was offered a job with the Water and Sewage Organisation in Jablonec. Then it was just a step to getting the job of a manager at the newly constructed Josefův Důl reservoir. I was there from the very start. I remember when it was being filled between 1982 and 1986. I left that job only a few years ago and handed it down to my son.”
He celebrated his fifty years in the Jizerské Mountains symbolically with another “fifty” – the cross-country skiing fifty. “It was a challenge so I signed up at the first opportunity. It was in 1973. That year I raced on wooden skis with a pretty bad gear. But it was fun. I made friends with local canoeists and climbers, who had known the members of the 1970 Peru Expedition. I’ve loved Jizerská 50 ever since, also because it reminds me of the climbers,” Pavel Ševčík explains.
Apart from Jizerská 50, Pavel regularly took part in the bobsleighing races in Tanvald. He was even there when the local track was being built. “That’s why I had to skip a few editions of the Fifty, the construction was difficult, just like training. After my bobsleighing career I went back to Jizerská 50 again and I never missed a year until the end of 1990s.”
The unfortunate accident and arm amputation didn’t stop Pavel Ševčík from taking part in the Vasa Run
In 1997 Pavel Ševčík had a serious work accident during which he almost lost his life. “In the end it was only my arm that got the worst of it and they had to amputate it. It required seven operations, the first one took over seven hours. It was a tough time, but I knew I’d want to get back to sport.”
And he did as he said. He not only continued racing at Jizerská 50 and in the end completed a total of 28 races, but he also ventured into the wider world. He took part in the famous Marcialonga and the Vasa Run. “I wanted to show people who had been similarly afflicted that they don’t need to feel sorry for themselves and expect help, but that they can help themselves.” His greatest cross-country skiing achievement was a third place in the disabled category at Birkebeinerrennet.
His most intense memory of Jizerská 50 is related to it. “It was the first year I raced without my arm. My time was some 90 minutes worse, but the experience was totally different. I proved to myself that you can do it even with such a handicap.”
These days he enjoys the Jizerské Mountains without racing, his son now works at the reservoir and he has time to appreciate the mountains. “I’ve always loved them and my attitude has not changed even after those 50 years here. The Jizerské Mountains are my home,” says Pavel Ševčík in closing his powerful story.
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