Gregor Schlierenzauer (25), World Cup record winner
Gregor Schlierenzauer won his first World Cup competition already at age 16 in December 2006 in Lillehammer. So far the Austrian took 52 more wins and is the record winner in the World Cup. He also added two wins of overall World Cup titles and the 4-Hills-Tournament, ten World Championships titles in ski jumping and ski flying and four Olympic medals to his impressive collection.
Gregor Schlierenzauer Interview:
FIS Ski Jumping: Hello Gregor, you just returned home from the USA. What did you do there?
Gregor Schlierenzauer: I was there on vacation. At first I did some sightseeing and then I was relaxing at the beach.
And now you are totally motivated for the new season?
There were also rumours about a possible break from ski jumping. How serious were these thoughts?
This is already yesterday’s news. I already denied that last year. After the Olympic Games 2014 I was tired and I thought about taking a year off. But that was over soon and especially due to the new coaching staff I gained new motivation.
Last winter you won “only” one World Cup competition, that doesn’t sound much. On the other hand you were in the Top 15 in most of the competitions and in the most important event of the season, at the World Championships, you won a medal. How would you sum up last winter?
When it comes to World Cup wins, I have had better years, that’s right (laughs). But I’m still satisfied with the season. I won two medals at the WSC and now I’m the only ski jumper, who could win an individual medal at all the four WSC he participated in. At the 4-Hills-Tournament I closely missed the podium. I had some problems with the technique and the equipment and then you are simply not able to compete with the best and it adds up during the course of the season. But you have to be realistic, many athletes would be happy about such a season. Of course the expectations are extremely high for me, but that’s also a motivation and I want to be among the best consistently again.
“I don’t have to prove anything anymore”
Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria celebrates winning the 1st place during the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup event at the 60th Four Hills ski jumping tournament at Olympiaschanze on January 1, 2011 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Can you estimate how many percent were missing to the top shape?
That’s difficult to say. Ski jumping is very sensitive and individual. Everyone has to find a good set-up for himself. And in my case, when everyone is talking only about wins all the time, this set-up not only has to be good, it has to be perfect. That’s the task every year and so far I was able to do that very well. But I also have to mention that a lot changed concerning the equipment over the last years and I haven’t found the perfect package yet.
You have been extremely successful at a very young age and won almost everything …
(laughs) But I didn’t die yet.
Fortunately! Is such a period with weaker results, if you can call it that, a good boost for the motivation?
It’s human that you can’t be on top all the time and that you have a little low at some point. That’s part of competitive sports. You learn from all these experiences, positive and negative, and try to gain new motivation and set new goals.
It seems as if you got a little more relaxed during this period. Is this wrong or did it become easier for you to deal with the fact that you can’t always win?
I get older and more experienced. At the same time I don’t have to prove anything to anyone any more, apart from myself. That helps to remain calm. But it doesn’t mean that you are not motivated to win World Cup competitions again.
There were only a few really big champions in sport you could handle defeat well. Do you want to be a “good loser”?
This is a philosophical question. When you are in elite sports, and you are very successful, you don’t want to lose. That’s for sure. But you have to learn that losing is part of the game. You need to know how to deal with it. This is a learning process. And when you are very young, like in my case, then you need to learn it even more. I maybe had a bit more of these experiences over the last one or two years.
Let’s look ahead. Next season there’s a highlight with the Ski Flying World Championships in Austria. Is this the competition you look forward to the most?
Yes and no. I’m happy that we have the World Championships at home, but actually I like the 4-Hills-Tournament better. And also the overall World Cup has its special appeal. World Championships are nice and if I’m competing I want to show that I am still one of the best ski flyers. But today I would say that the big goals are the 4-Hills-Tournament and the overall World Cup.
At the 4-Hills-Tournament you could prolong the incredible winning streak of the Austrians. How important is that?
Yes, that’s of course fantastic for Austria. But every jumper is competing for himself. It’s great when this results in such a streak for Austria, but as an athlete you want to be on top yourself. But of course it’s nicer when a teammate wins it, than an athlete from another nation, that’s for sure. And it’s also a motivation when a teammate wins and it pushes you in training.
How are the chances for Austria in the fight for the Nation’s Cup next winter?
I think that we will be very strong next year. We are a very young group and already grew together as a team. The atmosphere is great, everyone has fun and is highly motivated. We are working on a very high level. It’s the second season with the new coaching staff and I think that this will have an impact over the next years. But the competition makes progress as well. The five big nations, Germany, Slovenia, Norway, Poland and Austria will have a good fight and are almost always on the same level.
Can you sum up what has changed for your team under the new head coach Heinz Kuttin?
He is flexible and not stuck. You always get new information. This year we started very early with the team training, we also played ice hockey, for example. We are getting challenged, but still we can also work calmly with the team. This calmness is especially characteristic for Heinz.
Last question: You have probably read every possible headline about yourself. Is there one, you would still like to read?
Not really. What’s most important is, that you are healthy and have fun. Then these emotions come accross and are transported by the media. I’m generally not a fan of following the media that closely, especially during the time of competition. Stories are written that the people want to read and that’s why I don’t really care any more.