On the verge: Franz-Josef Rehrl (AUT)
"On the verge" focusses on the athletes to watch. Coming from the Continental Cup or gaining experience in the World Cup already, they have had good results but they are not quite there yet. But just interviewing these young hopefuls would have been too easy. Instead, they were asked to name their best buddies on the tour: one best friend on their own team and the international athlete they are getting along with best. These two athletes will try to shed a little more light on who is waiting in the wings of Nordic Combined to maybe steal the spotlight in the future.
It was during this year’s Summer Grand Prix that young Austrian Franz-Josef Rehrl had head turning for him the first time when he managed to take the win in the Provisional Competition Round at Villach. Besting big names like Austrian jumping sensation Christoph Bieler, the 21-year-old who aptly shares his first name with Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph is definitely one to watch for the future. Best buddies Alexander Brandner and Michael Ward share some more information!
Who is Franz-Josef Rehrl?
World Cup starts: 16
Best individual World Cup result: 26th in Chaikovskiy in 2014
Best SGP result: 9th in Villach in 2014
Continental Cup starts: 22
Best COC result: 3rd in Klingenthal in 2011
See more statistics about FJ here!
Best buddies: Alexander Brandner (AUT) & Michael Ward (USA)
How long have you known each other?
Alexander: We have known each other since we were about twelve years old. Back then, we were already competing against each other.
Michael: I first met Franz about 4 years ago when I began competing on the Continental Cup circuit. I didn't know Franz well until I competed at World Junior Championships in Erzurum, Turkey. When I first started competing internationally, I didn't know many athletes but Franz was one of those guys that was easy going and fun to hangout with. After that we became good friends.
What do you like about him?
Michael: One of my favorite things about Franz is that he loves to have friendly competitions. When I train with him, when we are at the top of the jump, or even before a competition, we love to talk a little smack (laughs). He also loves to get his butt kicked in ping pong (laughs).
Alexander: I like his relaxed attitude to not take things too seriously and of course his humour.
Why can he become a champion in Nordic Combined?
Alexander: He is very talented in cross-country and also in ski jumping. He knows what he has to do and stays calm. He’s just really good at doing his own thing.
Michael: I believe Franz has a great work ethic and is determined, like all of us, to become the second best nordic combined skier in the world... behind me obviously (laughs). On the Continental Cup and even on the World Cup circuit, Franz has been one of the top jumpers. He was always one to look out for on the hill. I think if he can improve his cross country skiing, he will almost be as fast as me (laughs).
What do you think has been his toughest moment in the sport so far?
Alexander: He had a bad crash in Predazzo and it took him quite some time to get back to his old self. But FJ never gives up and came back from it stronger.
Which success is he most proud of?
Michael: FJ has had some great results over the years and has made some huge improvement. As for his greatest success, I have two that come to mind. First was 2012 World Junior Championships in Turkey. He was a member of the team that won the team event, and finished 8th in the individual 5k, just squeaking me out at the finish line (laughs). Since 2012, I think his 9th place at the Villach Grand Prix was a huge confidence booster and a major step in the right direction.
Alexander: I think that was when we won the team gold at the Junior World Championships in Erzurum together. His whole family was there and it was a really emotional celebration afterwards!
What is the weirdest/funniest thing he does when it’s only athletes around him?
Alexander: That will stay between us athletes! (laughs)