„It’s not my goal to ski behind Akito!“
TUESDAY TALK: Takehiro Watanabe (JPN)
In this latest TUESDAY TALK, Japanese rising star Takehiro Watanabe chats about getting his very own ski club, his great teammate Akito Watabe and why he still isn’t fully satisfied with his breakthrough season in the past winter.
In the past season, you really moved up into the ranks of big Nordic Combined names. Are you satisfied with what you achieved last winter?
Watanabe: I am not satisfied because I think I could do better, especially in the first half of the winter. For the next winter, I’ll try to do my best to compete for Top Ten results from the first period onwards.
Being an excellent ski jumper sometimes put you in the position of being able to ski with your great teammate Akito Watabe for a time. Especially for a young athlete like you, does it help to be able to tag along with him in the races for a while?
Watanabe: He is a great teammate and also the nearest goal for me. I can learn a lot from him while tagging along with him. But skiing behind him is not my goal, my goal is racing in front of him and becoming a champion.
Especially in Trondheim, you showed a strong performance, finishing on your first World Cup Top Ten rank. A dream come true?
Watanabe: I just did my best and was able to finish in the Top Ten. Actually it was not so surprising a result to me at the finish because a Top Ten result was almost clear after the jumping part.
We have seen you will start in a new team / club: Gallium. Can you tell us a bit how this cooperation came to be and what it will mean for you in the upcoming winter?
Watanabe: Gallium is known as one of the best wax brands and they have created a ski club for me. It is kind of a long story that started 5 years ago when a huge earthquake hit our mutual hometown, Fukushima. Anyway, I am grateful that there are some Olympians in the company who would like to support me and I can help their wax development. So from the next winter, I have to sell Gallium Wax to other National Teams during World Cup competitions for my return ticket to Japan! (laughs)
How will you next days/weeks look like for you ?
Watanabe: I’ll have training camps with Team Japan and I’ll also have a camp at Pyeongchang in July. If I can spare a few days, I want to explore in the city of Sendai where I just moved to.
What are your goals for next season?
Watanabe: The first podium. And top ten result in World Championships in Lahti.