"Victories do not fall into your lap in COC!"
TUESDAY TALK: COC-Winner Tomaz Druml (AUT)
After spending most of his time in the World Cup in the past two winters, Tomaz Druml's season 2013/14 does look a bit like a step down from an outside view. But making the most of his time on the Continental Cup, Druml emerged the clear COC overall winner, leading a team of unbelievable seven young Austrian athletes in the Top Ten in the overall ranking. FISNC caught up with the 26-year-old about his bottom-line of the winter, goals for next year and -of course- his fabulous Caribbean holiday.
Tomaz, many fans and followers of the sport probably had you mentally filed away under "World Cup athlete". Now you had to spend more or less a full winter in the COC, how did you deal with this situation which looked like a step in the wrong direction at the first glance?
Tomaz Druml: If you look upon this from an outside point of view, it might look like a step back. For me personally, it wasn't as bad because I have been able to show very good performances. I actually was qualified to go back into the World Cup at the beginning of January but I got sick in Chaikovskiy and then I wasn't able to show what I was capable of in Chaux-Neuve and Seefeld, so it was back to COC.
But all is well that ends well with an overall win in the COC in the winter of 2013/14. How much is this victory worth to you?
Druml: It means something to me, for sure. Of course, the COC will always be overshadowed by the World Cup but you have to be able to win a competition there, too. To win the overall, you have to perform on a constant and good level all season long. The victories do not simply drop into your lap in the Continental Cup, too!!
The Continental Cup overall ranking is quite spectacular from an Austrian point of view this winter with 7 athletes in the Top Ten. Do the other nations in the World Cup have to watch their backs in the future?
Druml: Well, I know from experience that it is quite a stretch to be good in the World Cup after being good in the Continental Cup but I was able to have a great season with a lot of really strong young athletes. I saw that there is a strong Austrian team in the making and I am quite confident that with some more fine tuning here and there, it will for sure not get any easier for the other nations in the World Cup in upcoming seasons.
Speaking of upcoming seasons, what are your goals for next winter?
Druml: I would like to have a good preparation for the next season during summer now and I will have a special focus on the quality of training. My big goal are the World Championships in Falun. I got to know and love the hills there this winter! (smiles) And of course, the World Cup is a priority. I finally want to have my breakthrough there.
Looking back in the Continental Cup, how do you feel about the level of performance and also about the organisational level of the competitions?
Druml: I think the level of performance in the Continental Cup is always a little underrated because there is no direct comparison to the World Cup. But there are always World Cup athletes coming to Continental Cup here and there and I can tell, it's a struggle to win competitions. The organisational level is pretty good and if something is not 100%, Continental Cup Coordinator Toni Guggemoos is always anxious to straighten things out… if necessary with his own hands! (laughs)
So what have you been up to after the season ended? We have seen some fantastic vacation pictures!
Druml: Yes! Straight after the season I collected some more cross-country kilometres in the Norwegian woods and after that, I flew to the Caribbean together with my girlfriend. We sailed around the islands on a sailing boat, following in Captain Jack Sparrow's footsteps and just relaxed at beautiful beaches!
Last question: at the FIS Spring Meetings in Zürich, the first steps for Ladies Nordic Combined have been discussed extensively. What do you as an athlete think about this?
Druml: If you look at Ski Jumping, the ladies have become a well established discipline by now and they are having really exciting competitions like for example at the Olympic Games. Why shouldn't there be ladies fighting for medals and trophies in Nordic Combined? I think they have to begin to organise it from the bottom level up, though, to see how many young girls can be won for this discipline. But generally speaking, I would very much like to have the ladies join us in our sport. I am quite sure things would get way more colorful!