Last season at the age of 18 Gregor Schlierenzauer became the youngest ski flying World Champion in history, and finished the World Cup season in second place. In an interview the Austrian talks about new freedom, self-confidence and his sporting goals.
For the first time you started your summer holidays as the double [individual and team] ski flying World Champion. Did you need to take more of a holiday after the celebrations than usual?
After the WC things at school got really stressful again. It wasn’t until afterwards that I was able to really enjoy the World Championship feeling. But otherwise, luckily there’s not much of a difference. My family treats me the same way as usual, and makes sure I stay grounded. In my circle of friends my significance has changed a little.
Getting your driver’s license after the end of the season meant reaching one of your personal goals. What has changed your life more in the last few months, your sporting success or your license?
The license. Because of that I’m much more mobile and have become more independent. Now I just take the car and drive to training myself; I don’t have to be chauffeured around by my parents any more.
The team is going about preparation very differently this year. For example with an improvisation theater workshop. What has that got to do with ski jumping?
At the workshop we re-enacted situations from the World Cup, and saw how we come across to others. The exercises also showed what an important role self-confidence plays in many situations. Even during the warm-up you have to show your rivals that you’re in good shape – even if that’s not true.
In contrast to you, ‘Morgi’ is a go-getter in the team. How was that visible during the play acting?
Morgi had it a bit easier with his self-confident manner. You could see, though, that even he could show more self-confidence.
Your teacher was Jonathan Briefs, who has already worked with people like German comedian Dirk Bach. Did he recommend that you take part in other appearances as performers?
We weren’t very inhibited, and we told him that we’d also be prepared to appear in one of his shows. Let’s see whether he really takes us up on the offer.
Right now there won’t be much time for things like that, though. After all the Summer Grand Prix has already started. What are you expecting from it this year?
I’m seeing the Grand Prix as good preparation, because, like in winter, you have to continuously perform at your best for a longer period of time to stay at the top. But I’m not putting any pressure on myself, and don’t really have to win. But I want to show that I’m in good form.
In what areas do you think you could catch up in order to get back to your WC form from last year?
That’s hard to say, but I’m very happy with my preparation so far. But of course there are always things you can improve on. In training this year we’re putting a lot of emphasis on landing. It’s an art in itself to be able to set the telemark from long distances, and especially when landing you can lose a lot of points.
Last season you and Morgi didn’t give the competition much chance to win, and arranged that pretty well: he won the overall World Cup and you the World Championship. What’s planned this year?
We actually haven’t talked about that at all yet, but our aims are probably very similar. Since winning the World Championship I’m striving for higher goals: at the WC in Liberec I want to compete for the medals, and I’ve never won an event at the Four Hills tournament, either. Twice I was leading at half-time. And for once at the end of it I want to be at the top.