Besnik Sokoli is a superintendent of five buildings in Brooklyn, New York. He entered his first serious ski race in January 2017. Now he’s hoping to represent Kosovo in downhill skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The Wall Street Journal recently released the awesome interview above with Besnik, which introduces you to his unique methods of training, his inspirational story and the competitive drive that has made it all possible.
It’s a story bound to be compared to the likes of Cool Runnings or Eddie the Eagle if he accomplishes his feat - film producers, keep those eyes peeled - and judging on his performances on the circuit so far, that’s not altogether out of the question.
Besnik has been competing on the East Coast for a while now and racking up impressive results, and more recently has been competing abroad in the likes of South Africa and Argentina in a bid to get the points he’ll need to compete in the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea next year.
Those Games are closing in by the moment, but the 36-year-old Besnik, who trains for skiing in the boiler room of an apartment block in Brooklyn, believes the goal is an achievable one.
“[In the beginning] I thought to myself what am I doing here [at a ski race]," he told WSJ. “These guys are going to kill me. Not to be rude to them. I want to be respectful, but I think I did the opposite. That’s how it all started.
“These guys are professionals. They make their living by doing this and they’ve been doing this forever... But mentally, I think I’m far ahead of them, to be honest. Being a father, being married, being a superintendent of 150 units in Brooklyn, New York, that mentally gives me a big old advantage. I mean, for Christ’s sake I’m down in a big old Brooklyn basement.
“Do I think I have a chance? I’m not oblivious. I don’t think I have a chance to win it. But you never know, that’s my competitive side that kicks in. You never know."
Though Besnik has only recently taken up competitive skiing, he actually spent much of his childhood on skis. He first started when he was three years old, and skied right up until he was 16 or 17.
He is a war refugee from Kosovo, and arrived in the United States in 1999, though by his thick Brooklyn accent you’d guess that he’d been there his entire life.
The superintendent is currently financing all of his travels and equipment himself, along with his wife. It’s an amazing dream, a great story, and one that we hope ultimately leads him to South Korea in February of next year.
“If someone would have thought it was a crazy idea I would say they’re not living," he concludes his chat with SWJ. “They’re not living at all. If you’re not going to do anything like this then where’s the fun in life."
Agreed Besnik. Best of luck!