World Cup leader hails stunning beginning to 2018 in his exclusive blog.
I hope you survived Christmas and New Year. Personally, I enjoyed the holidays just spending a few quiet days relaxing with my family.
After the holidays, we successfully completed some good training days on the Reiteralm followed by a day of rest on New Year’s Eve.
With a bit of free time on my hands while flying on an airplane, I crunched some numbers on what January means to me. According to the plan, I will be taking part in nine races in 31 days.
That means 900 points are theoretically possible. The month also entails 12 days on the snow with 10 days considered as “freetime”, which I am dedicating to strength and stamina training as well as travelling.
So, by the end of January, I will have travelled a total 14,000 kilometre via car, helicopter and airplane.
In all that, I’ve not included the numerous media and sponsorship meetings – it will be an intensive and decisive month in which to win crucial World Cup points.
My year started on a plane to Oslo for the parallel event, the trip more than worth it after grabbing fifth place. I could have done better, if I hadn’t have tried to go with the double stick technique, which works better for other greater athletes.
Nevertheless, I’m completely content with the 40 World Cup points I won at the city event. Unfortunately, the spectators weren’t happy and, looking back, I feel sorry for them, because they couldn’t see anything due to the heavy fog. They barely saw anything from what is a brilliant event.
After a day’s rest, my team and I continued with slalom training and then on with our travels from Salzburg to Zagreb. After landing in Croatia, I had to go to a physiotherapist because I had issues with my neck.
Luckily, those issues could be resolved before winning the exciting Zagreb race without any restrictions by just eleven hundredths of a second in front of Henrik Kristoffersen, the first of three thrilling races decided by only hundredths of a second in the course of four days!
What remains in my memory most of that unique night race in Zagreb is the unbelievable performance of organisers to make this race possible at almost double-digit plus degrees Celsius.
At the end of the day, the effort was totally worth it, because there is nothing in the world that can compare to the enthusiasm and the atmosphere of a city in front of thousands of cheering fans.
Additionally to the 100 points, we gained new insights about the wet texture of spring snow for the coming races. This is important because we had zero experience during my injury phase to test what material works best during warm weather conditions. Now we know!
Next and last stop on this unbelievably exhausting January week was Adelboden. It started with the toughest giant slalom run I have ever skied through in Adelboden.
The first as well as the second run was like riding on the edge of a razor blade, especially the second, where I made a crucial mistake, which shouldn’t have happened, coming into the finishing area.
Fortunately, my performance was good enough for the victory and the extra 100 points! This was a nerve-wracking, strenuous race, which cost me a lot of energy.
I was even more delighted I managed to win the slalom race the following day. I was on the podium celebrating my double victory with Michi Matt in second. It’s no secret that Michi, just like his brother Mario before him, performs well on this soft, coarse snow, as he demonstrated impressively on Sunday. He skied smart and knew exactly when to slow down and where to speed up to be faster. This inspired my first run but I didn’t think that I would land in front of Michi. At the end of the first run, however, I surprisingly was in the lead once again.
The same feeling accompanied me during the second run, and fortune does favor the bold. Thankfully, I was again narrowly in the lead in a very close photo finishes. But I’ve stood a lot of times on the other side of those hundredths of a second.
All in all, the first week of 2018 went better than I could have ever imagined –winning 340 of a possible 400 points. Just to start the most important racing month in the ski World Cup is gratification enough for me.
Now, it is time to get my body back into shape and recharge my batteries before the next race starts in Wengen – a race that I have never been able to win and had some disappointing experiences with.
I never lost joy on this difficult slope, on the contrary. The first day of the new racing week started with an intensive hour of physiotherapy, likewise Tuesday and then starting training on the Reiteralm on Wednesday.
We’ll see each other in Wengen!
Until then yours truly,
Read the original blog in German HERE.