„I’m really excited to finally have a home competition!“
TUESDAY TALK: Akito Watabe (JPN)
It’s the last days before the Summer Grand Prix 2014, high time to check in with one half of last year’s winning duo: Akito Watabe from Japan. In TUESDAY TALK, the 26-year-old gives you a glimpse into his busy life after Olympic silver, why he won’t be competing in Europe this summer and how excited he is to finally welcome all his other fellow athletes to his home country of Japan.
It was quite some time since we have checked in with you and the Japanese team. What have you and your teammates been up to since the season ended?
Akito Watabe: Everybody is doing fine. We have been enjoying ourselves, taking time for relaxing and training after the hard season ended. Taihei recovered his elbow and shoulder and is getting in better shape day by day. He can train as usual now. Also my brother Yoshito joined the Kitano Ski Team. He and I are training together now.
With an Olympic silver medal in your luggage, you probably also had quite many commitments after the season ended. How did you rest and recover after your great winter?
Watabe: I had a quite busy time after I came out of the exit of airport, for sure! I had many ceremonies, interviews, PR events and so on until the end of June. I made the trip between Nagano and Tokyo many times. It felt a bit crazy at times but it was a good experience.
Soon after the season, Mikko Kokslien came to Japan to visit me at the end of March to the beginning of April. We went mountain skiing in Hakuba and Mt. Asahidake, Hokkaido. It was very nice trip that helped a lot with refreshing my mind.
We saw some pictures of you training at New Zealand some days ago. How did that go?
Watabe: Yes, I went New Zealand some days ago. But unfortunately, it was hopeless to be able to train on snow when we were there. I expected good snow condition as last summer. But there is not enough snow and warm and strong winds. Finally we decided to go back home. It was not a successful camp but I'm satisfied that I was skiing on the snow a bit.
What kind of training camps have you done with the team and will we see you at the SGP this year?
Watabe: We have done the usual three team training camps at Hakuba. We had some jumping and roller ski sessions and also some test competitions. I'm sorry, you will not see me at the SGP this year. But you will see Yoshito and Takehiro Watanabe there.
In the next winter, the NC World Cup will come back to Japan after quite some years. Are you excited to welcome your fellow athletes to your home country?
Watabe: I’m really excited to have a home competition in Sapporo. We didn’t have home races after the World Championships in 2007 anymore. I think more than half of all World Cup athletes have not been to Japan. I hope many athletes will come to my country and enjoying the „strange“ culture! I will do my best and try to count up my victories at the home race.