TT - Mario Stecher: "I feel positive about the development of Nordic Combined!"
What is Mario Stecher with his leg in a big bracelet shortly after his second surgery on his knee with cartilage damage doing at Planica, a venue known for long jumps and the chase after world records shortly after the Nordic Combined season is over? In this latest edition of TUESDAY TALK, the 35-year-old Austrian revealed why.
Mario, after your big split with your old ski brand during the World Championships, now you're here in Planica at the introduction of a new brand for jumping skis. Can you tell us what has come to pass in this regard in the last few weeks?
Mario Stecher: Well, thankfully everything fell into place and the new ski brand "Sport 2000" has approached me after it was clear that they would be entering the "World Cup business" next season if I would like to jump their skis. Of course, it was in my interest to say yes to this offer. This company focusses quite clearly on individuality. Every athlete, and I have been doing this for 20 years now, also has to be individual and go his own way. I think this is a good synergy.
As you are the first athlete to jump these skis you are also kind of a first face for this brand. How important do you think is it for the whole discipline of Nordic Combined and its popularity that you as a Nordic Combined athlete were the one being picked?
Stecher: I think it was clearly visible in this last season how extensively Nordic Combined is represented in the media by now. You were also able to see in Val di Fiemme that a very big number of fans and supporters are having our backs. This made me feel really positive about the whole process of developing the discipline. I am very proud and happy to be picked as a first athlete and being the first one to be equipped with a new jumping ski as a Nordic Combined athlete.
Back to your injured knee. Was it the plan from the beginning to have two surgeries to completely restore everything or was this due to a complication after your World Championship win?
Stecher: No, actually I pretty much sounded like I would be needing the second surgery when we did the first one. The reason was the cruciate ligament which was basically not there anymore, there was just scar tissue. Now we have tried to get the much needed stability back into the knee and now there is nothing holding me back from having another really good season next winter.
So, your doctors did a really really good job on patching you up for Val di Fiemme before this second surgery was needed?
Stecher: (laughs) Well, you might put it that way! I had a really good first surgery with a great healing process and of course the great care of our ÖSV doctors. So everything worked pretty well which gave me the opportunity to go for this silver medal.
What are your plans for the next weeks and months now?
Stecher: Above all things, I really want to spend some time at home now. I will probably be more of a third child for my wife at the moment, I guess. (laughs) I also would like to spend some time with my studies and do some exams. I am studying Sports Management at the Open University and I will go to Munich to do the exams. So it will be quite some busy time coming up. At the end of August or the beginning of September, I definitely would like to start jumping again, so that I am in a good shape and 100% fit again. Endurance training will be no problem even before that!