Experience personified: Mario Stecher
With a total of 258 World Cup starts, Austria’s veteran Mario Stecher is definitely the one to ask if you're looking for „Experience personified“. And even if the almost 37-year-old is not 100 % sure if he wants to continue with his career in the next winter, he still took the time to answer the following questions.
What would you says is the main difference between Nordic Combined when you started with it and Nordic Combined as it is today?
I think the sport did a 180 degree turn from when I started in the World Cup until today. In former times, everything was about the ski jumping part with two or three rounds of jumping and 15 kilometres of skiing. It was about the strong jumpers. For me, this meant if I wasn’t among the very best athletes in jumping, I had no chance. Cross-country skiing was a rather minor matter, the level of performance in cross-country skiing was not that high.
Today, you still have to be a good jumper and be among the best there but on top of that, you have to be a strong skier and a really good finisher. The athlete has to be way more complete, more of an all-around-talent these days.
How do you view the development of the sport these days, especially in regards to Ladies Nordic Combined?
It would be great to see Nordic Combined also for ladies. But for them as for everybody else who wishes to start with it, it has to be clear that it is one of the toughest sports out there in regards to training volumes, intensity and time you have to use for it. For the girls, one jump and 5 kilometres of skiing would probably be enough, as you see it in cross-country skiing where the ladies also tend to have shorter distances.
If you had one wish for the future of Nordic Combined, what would it be?
I think it’s important to quit discussing about formats like we did in the past. We need to find the „one“ Nordic Combined event, stick to it and promote it as well as possible to keep a fixed place on TV and in the media. Have one event and make that happen in a really good way - there’s nothing more exciting.
Something you have always wanted to say in an interview?
I am well-known as a person who has always said what was on my mind, so I have nothing to answer that question now. If the time is right, I will open my mouth!
Do you have any plans for after your active career?
First of all, I would like to finish my studies at the Open University Wismar and after that I would like to use the knowledge I accumulated in the course of my life and career and pass it on to others. I haven’t made a 100% decision on if I will continue next season or not. I will probably do that at the beginning of July.
Mario Stecher Facts
Favourite venue: Definitely Seefeld. I go to Seefeld to train very often, it’s just around the corner from where I live. In addition to that, the Nordic Combined TRIPLE has played out very well in the first year and media really liked this event at Seefeld. This is what makes Seefeld into my favourite venue.
Favourite format: I think the regular Individual Gundersen competiton with one jump and 10 kilometres of cross-country skiing is the best format. For me personally, it would be absolutely sufficient to only have this individual format in the World Cup, on normal and on large hills.
World Cup starts: 258
First World Cup start: 04.12.1993 in Saalfelden, Austria
First World Cup victory: 15.01.1994, Oslo
World Cup victories: 12
World Championship starts: 22
World Championship victories: 2
Olympic Games starts: 13
Olympic Games victories: 2