Athlete of the Week: Christoph Bieler (AUT)
While the Austrian team did not have much to smile about in the first half of the season, just in time for Sochi, head coach Christoph Eugen's squad is getting into top form as seen this weekend in Oberstdorf with four athletes (Bieler, Denifl, Stecher and Gruber) in the Top Ten in the individual competition on Sunday and a third rank in the team event on Saturday.
One key contributor to this success was the Athlete of the Week: Christoph Bieler. Together with his fellow veterans on the experienced Austrian team, the 36-year-old has stepped up his game in ski jumping. Bieler, known as a ski jumping expert among the Nordic Combined athletes, had two competition jumps over 130 metres in Oberstdorf, and won the jumping round in Sunday's competition in challenging conditions where he could profit from his long years of experience.
"The cross-country race in Oberstdorf simply was not good for me. In the end, I lacked the power to hang onto the podium. A fourth place is very good but not what I hoped for after my jumping victory", a slightly disappointed Bieler said. But the Tyrolian has a new highlight to look forward to: he is part of the just-announced Austrian Olympic team (together with Mario Stecher, Willi Denifl, Lukas Klapfer and Bernhard Gruber).
"We are going to Vienna now for all the official stuff like the Olympic outfitting and at the end of next week, we go back to Oberstdorf for one last camp to get the last preparations done. And on the sixth, it's off to Russia!" And if the curve of the Austrian level of performance is pointing in the same direction as it is now, everything might be possible for Bieler & Co. And in the excitement and hustle and bustle of the Olympic Games, experience might be quite the thing to have to prevail.