Beat Feuz: "I want to go skiing at the beginning of August"
The 2011/12 has been a dream season for Beat Feuz who finished as the runner-up to Overall World Cup winner Marcel Hirscher, who took home the big globe with a 25 points advantage. That year the young Swiss speed skier made a name for himself among the big league guys by putting down one impressive result after the other. The then 25 year old collected his first ever podium at the beginning of the season in Lake Louise and went on to achieve 14 more by the end of it. As if that wasn’t enough, he threw five victories in the mix, clocking the fastest times at classics such as Val Gardena and Wengen but also proving unbeatable at the future Olympic downhill slope in Sochi.
The sky seemed to be the only limit for Feuz as he was approaching the 2012/2013 season, working hard to keep his pace in the speed disciplines while improving in giant slalom and aiming at a second shot to the Overall title. But just as he was preparing for the season Opening in Soelden, what had been a non-worrying knee pain became a full force infection, forcing Feuz to spend five weeks at the hospital, miss the whole season and even question the continuation of his career…
Almost a year later, Feuz seems to be recovering well and is in good spirits so we took the opportunity to chat about what happened and his plans for the future.
Q: Let's start at the beginning - you were getting ready to start your season in Soelden when things got ugly and what at first seemed like a not too serious injury forced to skip you a full season. Can you explain what exactly happen?
Beat Feuz: Unfortunately, nothing went as I wanted at the time. I was ready for the season but there was this pain in my knee that just didn’t want to go away. Trying to cure it, I went through various therapies in October and at the beginning I even seemed to be responding well. Than, in a moment everything changed and I was told I had a serious infection in my knee…
Q: You spent weeks in the hospital and there were rumors about you not being able to ski again, did you ever think that or were you confident in your recovery?
BF: The doctors had told me that they clearly could not promise anything. So of course during the five weeks I spent at the hospital I have often thought that that might be the end of my career! I thought about it but I also knew I didn’t want it to happen and would do everything I could to get back. Even now, almost a year later I cannot promise anything but my confidence is partly back for the new season.
Q: What was the hardest thing about the injury?
BF: The worst part was the eternal waiting, the not knowing what the outcome would be… Then the pain came too, but that was not the main problem on a daily basis.
Q: What was the most important lesson you learned this past year?
BF: If anything I learned that it is important to have the right people around you when you find yourself a difficult situation like mine was.
Q: Things eventually got better and you seem to be back in full training mode with the team. At how many percent are you now health and strength wise?
BF: Training is currently going according to plan but I am certainly still missing 20-30% until I'm fully ready for a comeback. Unfortunately I still can’t train much with my team but the goal is to be able to ski with them in October. Before then I will be training mostly on my own.
Q: What are the plans for the rest of the summer and when are you planning on getting back on skis?
BF: Now it is important that my body gets fit again and that I can work harder and harder without having any problems. I want to go skiing at the beginning of August, as I won’t be going to Argentina with the team. For the rest of the summer I plan to stay in Switzerland or Austria.
Q: You missed a full season and are about to get back straight into the Olympic one. What are your expectations and how important are these Olympics in the big picture?
BF: The Olympic season is always important. But my goal is to race without pain, to get back to the starting gate and when that works, Sochi will certainly be the absolute highlight of the season. Making the Olympic team would definitely feel good because I know I can do well on that slope, I won a race there two years ago.
Q: You seem to be based in Innsbruck a lot and are neighbors with Hans Olsson who is also coming back from an injury. What's your relationship with the Lionman and was it helpful sharing the rehab with someone who comes from the same sport?
A: It's cool to have a neighbor who is in the same sport as you are. It is also helpful that we could train together after our respective injuries, push each other to step up the training.
Q: Looking to next season, what are you looking forward to the most?
BF: In 2013 there are going to be many important races for me. The highlight is Sochi but I am equally thrilled about Wengen and Kitzbuehel!
We wish Feuz all the best in the final stages of his recovery and look forward o seeing his name on next year’s starting lists!
By Ana Jelusic