In focus: Lukas Runggaldier
"Simona was very near to us this weekend", he said calmly and it seems as if he had tears in his eyes. Lukas Runggaldier, sixth and fourth in the World Cup competitions in Seefeld, is not losing sight of the really important things at the peak of his career so far. Simona Senoner, the young ski jumper who died last week, was a member of the same, she was his training partner and a distant relative. "I dedicate these results to her. She looked down on me in Seefeld and helped me to do even better."
So Lukas Runggaldier is in the middle of the world class in nordic combined, on Sunday he even beat German Tino Edelmann in the final sprint. And that although the 23-year-old from Groeden intensively considered a career end last summer. He said he could not do better than the 11th place at the Olympic Games. Talks with Romed Moroder and his coach Harald Rodlauer motivated him to rethink. "They said I have potential and I'm important for the team - that's why I'm still here."
"I know that it's not easy for me to stay motivated for hard training especially in summer", Runggaldier said. "But when I decided to pursue a certain way then I do that seriously and consequently. I'm someone that you can rely on."
That's why his great results are not a surprise. The young man from St. Christina made a huge step forward in the cross country technique, and in ski jumping Runggaldier is not yet there where Rodlauer would like him to be. "Lukas has the potential to win the ski jumping in nordic combined", told the Austrian. "He has reserves during the flight and he's still lacking this "killer instinct" that athletes like Jason Lamy Chappuis have - to soar down, make the telemark. But that will come, Lukas is in nordic combined for eight years only."
Runggaldier was a cross country skier and started with nordic combined in 2002. At this time Romed Moroder introduced a women's ski jumping team and asked the men if they would want to start with nordic combined. They wanted - and eight, nine years later the efforts are bearing fruit.
The World Championships are the main goal of the introverted South Tyrolean. If he can already win a medal? No idea. A top result would definitely ease his motivation problems to continue towards Sotchi 2014, towards Olympic medals. Simona Senoner will accompany Runggaldier on his path.