Nico Polychronidis: "Ski jumping is a very expensive hobby"
In our series "Ski Jumping-Talk" we present interviews with ski jumping athletes and officials. Today: Nico Polychronidis, first Greek Olympian in ski jumping.
Nico Polychronidis was born 1989 in Bremen (GER) as the son of a German mother and a Greek father. He learned ski jumping in Oberstdorf and in 2004 he started competing in FIS events for the German Ski Association. During the FIS Team Tour 2013 he was competing for his father's native country for the first time, he also represented Greece at the World Championships 2013 and 2015 and at the Olympic Games in Sochi. His best result in the World Cup so far was a 38th place in Sapporo in January 2014.
FIS Ski Jumping: Hello Nico, how did the preparation for the new season go for you so far?
Nico Polychronidis: I'm currently in Oberstdorf and started training already a few weeks ago. I'm also studying sports management and I couldn't do much for that in winter. So right now I'm actually working on the winter and summer semester at the same time. That's why I don't have that much time for jumping at the moment. It has to stand back a little now.
FIS Ski Jumping: But you plan to continue ski jumping?
Polychronidis: Generally yes. But the same problem arises every season. With the Greek Ski Association I can only plan one year at a time. We started planning now, but it's not getting any easier, the situation is pretty bad. It's also extremely exhausting to organize everything by myself. That's why I'm torn right now. If I try it again, I want to make it right.
FIS Ski Jumping: Usually most of the ski jumpers get a competition plan, they come to the airport with a ticket in their pocket, get picked up at the airport, go to the already booked team hotel and they can focus completely on the sport. What's that planning and preparation like for you?
Polychronidis: First, my competition calendar has to comply with my budget, not with my shape. That's why, for example, trips to Japan can only be booked on extremely short notice if there's still enough money left. Apart from that I try to pick competitions that are as close as possible and so I don't have to fly there. The association then signs me up. I have to name my coaches and I have to organize the coach myself. I have to check the hotel options and find out when the team captain's meetings are. I'm a one-man-team (laughs).
FIS Ski Jumping: In training you are working with the coaches of the training center in Oberstdorf. It's more difficult in the competitions. Do you just take a friend with you, who takes care of everything?
Polychronidis: The association tries to organize a cooperation with other teams, but it's not really working. So I need to find out, which of my friends has time for such a trip over the weekend and get them interested. So far I always found someone. At competitions like in Willingen, for example, I know the head of the forejumpers and so he also coaches me then. But I need to find an individual solution for every competition.
FIS Ski Jumping: The Greek Association is, of course, not that well connected in ski jumping. Is there a ski jumping section at all?
Polychronidis: (laughs) By now there's something close to that. The athletic director of the association is in charge. It took almost a year until I had a permanent contact person. By now they know the main procedures. I tell them to which competitions I want to go and then I'm at least signed up. Previously it happened that when I went to competitions I was not even signed up. This is more or less working now. But there's still a lot of work left to do.
FIS Ski Jumping: Financial problems in Greece a pretty big issue. It's hard to imagine that they are jumping for joy because they also have to finance a ski jumper now ...
Polychronidis: (laughs) At the beginning they were jumping for joy because they had a ski jumper for Greece. But when it came to funding and support, suddenly nobody was in charge anymore. This is really difficult and that's why I'm also affected by the situation in Greece. I also have to find the sponsors for myself. I get some support by the association, but that's only enough for two weekends of competition. Ski jumping is a very expensive hobby. That's why I have to see how much sense it still makes.
FIS Ski Jumping: Are experiences like competing in World Championships and Olympic Games worth all the stress?
Polychronidis: It was definitely worth it! I was at two World Championships and at the Olympics. I would have never experienced that in any other way. But it's not a walk in the park.
FIS Ski Jumping: How do they other jumpers react when you come to the hill? Do you get belittled or do they show you respect?
Polychronidis: I know the German guys well, I was on the C and B team with some of them. Markus Eisenblicher, for example, is a very good friend. I don't have that much to do with the other teams. My performances last winter didn't make it any easier for me to be taken seriously. But for me it's mainly about taking it seriously for myself.
FIS Ski Jumping: What would be a motivation for you right now to continue?
Polychronidis: Actually the only reasons would be that I really enjoy ski jumping and I love competing. The next Olympics are too far away for me, so I can't plan for that. And I'm just not capable off setting goals for myself in the World Cup, I'm three levels below that. The good thing is that the association already confirmed my spot on the team for the next World Championships (laughs). But I said that I'll jump as long as possible. And now it's a critical time, financially and also because the study is entering a serious phase. And it would also not be wrong to start the working life at age 27. What I would be missing, would be the chance to jump over 200 m. So far I was in Oberstdorf and Planica. If I continue, the Ski Flying World Championships would definitely be a goal next winter.
FIS Ski Jumping: Last question: Which headline would you like to read about Nico Polychronidis some time?
Polychronidis: (laughs) This is difficult. I think I already read some funny headlines about myself. I'm pretty satisfied with it.
FIS Ski Jumping: We wish you all the best and hopefully we will see you again at the hill.