Hölzl: Everyone tries even harder

21 November 2010 18:22

By Thomas Janz

Kathrin Hölzl enters the World Cup season as a defending champion in two respects: she's the reigning world champion and World Cup champion in giant slalom. In this interview with Eurosport, she speaks about the coaching change, her second stronghold, and reveals from which point of view her last season was a "disaster".

You finished second in Soelden - a furious start to the season. Which feeling had the upper hand: pleasure of being on podium, or frustration over the missed chance to win after leading after the first run?

Kathrin Hölzl: I was totally satisfied with my second place. Of course you try to carry a lead into the finish, but you cannot even speak of disappointment. To the contrary, second place gives me a lot of confidence. I know now that I'm up there again.

You did not previously always have the necessary nerves. How much does the Worlds title help in a situation like in Soelden, if you know: you are fighting for the win?

Hölzl: I do think that the title has brought me another step forward, but I'd already shown before that I have very good nerves. Especially in second runs, I could often improve my rank. After winning the Worlds title, I led in Aspen for the first time after the first run and won the race. Since then, I do not stress and am actually quite relaxed. There is only some tension and nervousness which you need to have to succeed.

Still, you have put considerable effort into working on your mental strength. What exactly did you do to improve in that area?

Hölzl: At the time I had problems to bring results in the World Cup. So I worked with a motivational coach. It was about breathing techniques and mind games to control the nervousness.

From mental training to ski training: Has the coaching change in DSV had an impact on you or is it all the same, since the giant slalom coach is the same?

Hölzl: Actually, everything has stayed as it was. Of course we now have a new strong head coach with Tom [Stauffer, editor's note] who is world class especially when it comes to organization and takes off a lot of work from the shoulders of the event coaches who then can fully concentrate on their work. They continue to have full control over what, where and how we train.

Within the team, competion in giant slalom with Viktoria Rebensburg and Maria Riesch is immense. Is it an advantage to be able to work every day with so many top racers?

Hölzl: Yes, absolutely. Everyone wants to be the fastest in training, not to lose by seconds, and that's how we can push each other. Everyone tires even hards, pushes themselves closer to the limit.

Besides giant slalom, you wanted to build a second pillar for yourself in slalom. How does it look like?

Hölzl: In the summer, it went quite well. I think I have taken a step forward. But in preparing for the GS in Soelden, slalom was put on the backburner. Now it is again a focus, especially in terms of consistency. A good result in Levi would help my self-confidence. Ideally a Top Ten. Last year was a disaster from the slalom perspective.

Then there are the speed events super-G and downhill. What are your plans there?

Hölzl: This is a difficult one, because you need to invest so much time in the training. It is a question of timing, skis and much more. Since it never seemed that I could make the top 30 in super-G, or even in downhill, I have not invested the time and have focused on giant slalom and slalom instead.

You started in Soelden as the World Cup champion in giant slalom with the red bib. This success was a bit lost in the gold rush around Maria Riesch and Viktoria Rebensburg?

Hölzl: I would not say that. Nevertheless, Olympics without a medal for me was obviously a little disappointing. But the small crystal globe made up some of that disappointment. The performances of those two at the Games were simply outstanding and the Olympics do remain the Olympics. You can win a World Cup globe every year.

What are your plans for this year, in the World Cup and at the World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, as two-time title defender?

Hölzl: They often say that the season after winning a title is the most difficult, but I have that behind me already. After the World Champion title I won the World Cup. So I was able to confirm my success and has no need to prove anything to anyone anymore. I just want to ski relaxed, give my best at each race and  see what that brings. Of course, the World Championships on home snow are the main goal. Until then, I hope to stay healthy and then fight for medals in a top shape.

Courtesy of Eurosport