„I don’t want to play the role of ‚team athlete‘ any longer!“
TUESDAY TALK: Maxime Laheurte (FRA)
France’s Maxime Laheurte starts into the new season with confidence. For the new TUESDAY TALK, he spoke to the colleages at Nordic Mag (French version here) about wanting to win a medal in Lahti, his last days before the season start and how his preparation changed in the new „Riiber-era“.
We are just a few days away from the season start in Ruka, Finland. How did your program for the last weeks look like?
Maxime Laheurte: Everything was great. I took a couple of days vacation in Lisbon with surfing and sun bathing. After that, I depended on the conditions in France: skiing in Prémanon, jumping in Gérardmer, maybe Chaux-Neuve. I decided to only go to Ruka at the very last moment, on the 23rd of November. I can ski in France and I am confident that I will be able to perform on the jumping hill from day one.
How do you feel right before the season start?
Laheurte: I am pretty serene. I have done the best preparation I could, now I have to keep a level head and move forward day by day.
The summer went pretty well for you, looking at the national Samse tour and international competitions like for example your third place at the German nationals. How do you view the success of your season preparation?
Laheurte: That’s true, this summer I did not miss out on many competitions. I am still lacking a bit of confidence on cross-country skis but I did my job on the jumping hill. I know I have to stay alert, though, because things can flip pretty fast.
We have seen a change in Nordic Combined with the ski jumping part being responsible for more of the end result again, as you can see in the performances of Jarl Riiber and also Håvard Klemetsen and Eric Frenzel. What have you changed to be among the best on the jumping hill?
Laheurte: With Riiber, we really became aware of the reserves we still had on the jumping hill. We have changed everything in terms of our physical preparation. I also changed a lot in my personal technique in hopes of getting closer to the leading athletes on the jumping hill. I was struggling for some weeks but I all came together quickly in the end. My body just had to adapt to the new requirements.
At Lahti 2017, one of the highlights of the upcoming winter, the French team has to defend medals, especially the one in the Team Sprint. How do you approach this goal?
Laheurte: It’s clear that Lahti is THE goal of the winter. I think Francois Braud and myself are no longer just outsiders for the Team Sprint. I think it would be a disappointment not to get a medal. For the Team Event, everything is possible, especially looking at the level of our two youngsters Laurent Muhlethaler and Antoine Gerard at the moment. Individually, it’s time to think about a medal, too. I don’t want to play the role of the „team athlete“ as in Falun any longer.
Chaux-Neuve will also be a major event for the French team. Is it still fun to compete at home, like always?
Laheurte: Chaux-Neuve is always fantastic, that’s clear. In the last year, the audience was not really satisfied with our performance but that was because they compared it to past performances by Jason (Lamy Chappuis). I have great memories of the audience support. I love it and can’t wait to do it again.