Interview taken from the Thuringian newspaper "Freies Wort" from
January 8th 2002, just before the World Cup in Oberhof
fantastic as a moon landing"
Congratulations for two anniversaries.
20 years ago you started your career in sports and 10 years ago you made your
world cup debut.
(checks in surprise): You are right. It's nice being reminded of that. One
doesn't think about these things during the season.
How do you sum up these 20 years?
Apart from later achievements, which couldn't at all be expected then, I'm still
grateful to my parents, who supported my attendance at the KJS (Children- and
Youth Sports School) in Oberhof. This was a great opportunity for my personality
Which event was the most determining one?
S: No doubt it was my first participation in the Olympic Games in Lillehammer
1994. This dream of every sportsman seemed completely unrealistic for me one
year before and became reality. It was as fantastic as a moon landing.
Back to the present. After your delated start in the current season because of a
cold, will you take the offensive at your home game in Oberhof?
S: I feel fit and healthy and hope I'll approach to my best shape in Oberhof
like the year before, because the Olympics are near at hand. But I hope for
appreciation if I can't reach a place on the rostrum this time. Priority is
established on the Olympics of course. That's why I won't take part in the world
cup in Antholz.
How often do you think about your great performance and triumph at the mass
start competition of last year, when you managed to overtake the leading Vitek
and Rozhkov just before the finishing line?
S: Very often. I
still don't know what – with the help of the crowd beneath the track –
physically and psychically happened to me about 400 m before the finishing line.
In many competitions, when I see another athlete in front of me, I still think
about that special situation. Then I wish I was lent wings again. And during
training in Oberhof, when I pass that point before the bridge, I have the scene
in mind aswell. This triumph in Oberhof was a moment of extraordinary emotions.
Is a home game explicitly straining?
S: It's a
tightrope walk between being extremly close to the fans and top event. It's not
the distance from start to finish that's the problem, but the distance from
finish to start. Actually, one should be accomplished by bodyguards, but we as
biathletes are not that unapproachable. You can't leave the many fans, who keep
their fingers crossed for you all year long, standing there. But you have to
channel the hustle and bustle here in Oberhof and Ruhpolding.
One of the favorites for all the competitions here is undoubtedly Ole Einar Björndalen.
What do you think about him and his excursions to cross country competitions?
Would you call him a fantast oder a phenomenon?
You have to be a bit crazy in high-performance sports. For me, Ole Einar's
double game is phenomenally and on the other hand, it proofs that we as
biathletes can be great in cross country skiing, at least in the skating
technique. But the training- and competition schedule made by the German Ski
Federation is that close, that excursions like these are almost impossible.
There is more freedom in Sweden and Norway concerning that.
interviewers were Werner Bache and Thomas Sprafke