March 1st 2017, the Nordic World Championships are being held in Lahti, Finland. We are having lunch at work and as all Norwegians we are watching the men’s 15KM classic race, when one of my colleagues asks “So André how is Portugal doing? Have they ever had someone skiing?” It took about 20 seconds from my somewhat confused “eeeeeh I don’t know, don’t think so” until someone found out that Portugal has had one athlete in Olympics, Danny Silva, in 2006 and 2010. After a couple of more searches we confirmed what I imagined, cross country in Portugal is virtually nonexistent with three other active athletes. “André, you’re at the level of these guys! We have to get you into the national team, imagine if you could go to the Olympics that would be insane!” And then it hit me: This is a unique chance to make a small difference in the cross country community. A Portuguese person, raised in the cross country paradise – Norway. I am honored to be given the chance to bring this beloved winter sport to the traditional summer sport nation, Portugal. My ambition is to not only inspire my fellow citizens through the television screen in the Olympics, but to also inspire through active participation. I intend to start a cross country team in Portugal, host rollerski events and help fellow Portuguese athletes follow their ambitions in the winter sport community.  From there it took two weeks and a couple of emails and I was registered with the National Winter Sports Federation as an athlete and candidate for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. My first official race representing Portugal was Birkebeinerrennet 2017. This moment will forever be the start of what will probably be one of the greatest adventures of my life. From this day on there was no doubt, I’m going to the Winter Olympics – whatever it takes.

You can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.
-Michael Phelps

But, how did we get here?

I tried skis on for the first time at age 10. Playing football with my local club DBK and cross country was a way to keep training with my friends during off-season. My parents bought me my first pair and I tried a bit in their backyard guided by some friends. I quickly liked it and decided to join DBK’s ski group to improve and train with the guys. Being a bit more tan than most Norwegians needless to say some were surprised and pleased to see a non-native Norwegian practicing the national sport. This is also the case for the reporter from Drammens Tidende who one day spotted my father and I skiing and deciced to write a story about us, the title was allready given: Speedy Goncalves on fiberglass skis

Little did the reporter, myself or my father know at the time this picture was taken, what was to come from being a cross country skier from Portugal. And to answer what we all want to know when we look at that picture: Yes, my father still has the jacket. Smashing!

Training with DBK went on for a good couple of years and then my family and I moved so I unfortunately had to leave the club. Despite this I kept on skiing for myself just for fun and being outdoors in the winter. Until 2016 I had never done any races. Thanks to a good friend who in 2015 convinced me to enter in the well known “Birkebeinerrennet” I participated in my first race in 2016. Throughout my 28 years I’ve allways had a great passion for physical activity and sports. Football, cross country, weightlifting, cycling and running are some of the sports I have practiced and still enjoy.

 

I look forward to sharing the rest of my journey with you, thank you for reading. Feel free to leave your comments and contact me:)