Simon Ammann: "I'm looking forward to Bischofshofen"
In our series "FIS Ski Jumping-Talk" we present interviews with ski jumping athletes and officials. Today: Simon Ammann (34).
Simon Ammann is the most successful Swiss winter Olympian. 2002 in Salt Lake City and 2010 in Vancouver he won two individual gold medals. This also makes him the most successful ski jumper in individual competitions at the Olympics.
FIS Ski Jumping: Hello Simon, how was your summer so far?
Simon Ammann: It was very intense. After starting training it always takes some time to get used to it again. Like every year, the training is very exhausting. It's not getting easier, it's getting more difficult. My big projects were the new coaching staff and the landing. And also to get on a good basic level again. So far it's going pretty well, most of it does. I still can't land well (laughs). But I made the first step in the right direction. But it's said that the third time's the charm, so I still have to make two big steps until the winter. The coordination with the new coaches is working fine, all in all the level is okay. I'm just always lacking a few judges' points to be in the Top 10.
Apart from that I was in Los Angeles at the Special Olympics for two weeks. This is really close to my heart. That's another project, there's a lot going on also off the hill.
And then the analyzer in me comes out after the competitions again and again (laughs).
FIS Ski Jumping: You also spent some time in England for pilot training.
Ammann: I already forgot about that (laughs). I was there right after the season. When everybody else was going home from Planica, I was going to Bristol in England for the obligatory lessons. In May I went there again for the second part. Actually I also should have taken tests, but I didn't have time for that due to the other projects. Ski jumping requires a lot of effort, you have to carefully consider how much stress you can handle.
FIS Ski Jumping: There were rumors about a possible career end. How serious did you think about that?
Ammann: This is not completely right. It took me a relatively long time until I found enough reasons to be totally focused again. I would have taken even more time to annouce the decision, but then the training started and I had to say something.
I'm facing a big challenge with the adjustment of my landing. You don't do that every day. So far I always had the left leg in front, now it's the right one. This is something I learnt from the crash in Bischofshofen. There's no way back now.
In addition I also thought about other issues, like what can be done differently in summer training in order to make real progress. It's not always possible only with imitations, you also have to jump on the hill. You need to see that something is working and you need positive experiences. I had a few and that made me decide to continue. I'm happy about that. Basically I knew already very soon that I want to continue, but I was skeptical whether it would stay that way, if I would really feel like doing it. I wanted to wait if there are any changes of the rules by the FIS, I wanted to know who will be our new coach. These are things that you have to feel. In this day and age you always want answers to everything immediately, but some things just need more time. So far everything has proven to be right. There are positive experiences in various fields. Physically I had a better start than last year, when I was on a very low level. But still the winter started well for me, so it should work like that again this time.
FIS Ski Jumping: Let's talk about Bischofshofen a bit. Your crash looked really bad, did you watch it afterwards?
Ammann: Do I have to answer this question?
FIS Ski Jumping: Of course not!
Ammann: For me it's always important to analyze things. It's not about the sensation of the crash itself and, of course, to see what happened. It's about making the step back to the hill and to learn from it. I consider myself happy that I was able to jump again in winter already, because everything turned out all right. Now every reader can get an idea of whether I watched it or not (laughs). Actually it's obvious. What I can say is that the jump was not a good advertising for the sport (laughs). I was also told that the crash tarnished my statement that ski jumping is not a dangerous sport. But I still try to stick to that (laughs). It has to be worked on now.
FIS Ski Jumping: You are a father. Does an athlete, who has a family, have thoughts that go beyond the sport after such a crash?
Ammann: My family always granted me the freedom to make decisions myself. In life you always want to do what you enjoy doing. And when you found something that's right for you, you should carefully consider whether you want to quit or not. This freedom is important to me and I had it right from the start. It's was also good to spend January at home, otherwise I would have been surprised how big the little guy is already when I return in spring (laughs).
FIS Ski Jumping: Is traveling around the world still fun when the family is waiting at home?
Ammann: It has to. Not only for family reasons, but also because I've already seen a lot and it repeats itself. Some things change, others stay the same. That's why I need the success to stay focused.
FIS Ski Jumping: Last winter, before the 4-Hills-Tournament, you said that you are looking forward to Oberstdorf, that it's a very special place for you. Has that changed over the last year?
Ammann: Actually it hasn't. It was just annoying, my shape was not that good. All in all I was not too far from the top, but the necessary points were missing. Apart from the fall, which was not that bad in Oberstdorf, I was angry that I didn't get there in a good shape. The first jumps of the season were great, I thought I had a chance at the 4-Hills. But then things turned out differently. I'm also looking forward to Oberstdorf this time. And to Bischofshofen as well.
FIS Ski Jumping: Do you feel that you have some unfinished business in Bischofshofen? A score to settle?
Ammann: No, it's not about that. I had many positive moments at the 4-Hills-Tournament on almost every hill. The only thing that's missing is that I have never won in Austria. There's also the Kulm to achieve that next year (laughs). These are things that are still open on the list of successes. It's nice that there's still something to achieve.
FIS Ski Jumping: So this is a motivation for you?
Ammann: Yes, I think so. Austria was always a difficult terrain and the things that are bittersweet are always the most beautiful ones. Because you realize how fast it can go, you just need a bit of luck. For example, last year in Innsbruck the inrun was a bit too long in the first round. That was a pity. The jumps were long and it was difficult to have a nice landing. This always plays a role. The Austrians are often very strong in Bischofshofen, they proved that in the past years. You need to have the necessary energy there at the end. This has always been difficult for me.
FIS Ski Jumping: How happy are you that recently you often were not the best Swiss on the result list?
Ammann: Towards the end of last season Gregor Deschwanden did a good job. He recenlty said that he would want to jump well earlier in the seaon, I would like to hand it over (laughs). But it's not only Gregor alone, it would be nice if the boys can make the next step. I'm also there to support them. This is also my task as an athlete. You need some year's of learning in order to impart that as a coach.
FIS Ski Jumping: Is becoming a coach something that you can imagine doing in the future?
Ammann: I don't know yet. I can't answer this question.
FIS Ski Jumping: Let's look ahead to next season. You said that winning in Austria is a big goal. Does this mean you focus on the 4-Hills-Tournament and the Ski Flying World Championships?
Ammann: Yes, that's true. I can tell more in winter, or before the season, because the landing has to work until then. And then I can make my plans. This is a very important prerequisite.
FIS Ski Jumping: We will see you compete again in summer?
Ammann: Yes, in Hakuba. After that we'll see. I definitely need another training period, September and October are over soon. Last year I wasn't very happy in summer and focused on training again. Now I'll wait and see how the next weeks will be.
FIS Ski Jumping: Thanks a lot for the interview and all the best for the summer.
Ammann: Thanks, I need that (laughs).