Simon Ammann: Not yet ready to retire
For our interview series “FIS Ski Jumping-Talk” we speak to Ski Jumping athletes and officials. Today: Simon Ammann, four time Olympic Champion and winner of both competitions in Kuusamo last weekend.
FIS Ski Jumping: Congratulations on your amazing weekend, Simon. You took your 22nd and 23rd win in the World Cup. Are you now aiming for Gregor's record?
Simon Ammann: Which Gregor, ours or Schlieri? (laughs). It would be a good fight, if it ever gets to that. But this is difficult to predict, like the whole winter. Everyone now tries to paint the bigger picture about how the season could continue. But there's still a lot of work left to do.
FIS Ski Jumping: Are you surprised by how good the start of the season was for you, or did you have a positive feeling right from the start?
Ammann: I already had good jumps in training and thought that it could work also in the competition. I could show some of it in Klingenthal, but I always have some things to adjust. I have to abandon the nervousness in the competition. It worked pretty well already in Klingenthal. Then it's about coordinating the program for the week concerning the training and competition. And actually you can't plan anything for Kuusamo. You need luck in order to do as well as I did. And unfortunately it was obvious this weekend that it's not that easy.
FIS Ski Jumping: You mentioned the nervousness. You are one of the most experienced jumpers, are you really still nervous before it starts?
Ammann: Yes. There are factors that you can't calculate. We saw many other jumpers at the training in Oberstdorf three weeks ago. The German team, the Poles and the Slovenes. You had a little comparison there, but still you never know how it will be in the competition. And then, at the beginning, I'm also nervous. If it goes well, I can use this nervousness to push my performance. That it then works so well right away is also a bit of a coincidence.
FIS Ski Jumping: It was a difficult weekend in Kuusamo with two heavy falls. You became a father a few months ago. Do you now look at such situations differently?
Ammann: This question was asked various times. For me it's important to evaluate the risk. The difference between a good, aggressive jump and one that gets a little bit out of control is very small. For me it's important that the jump is smooth. Then the wind has less surface to attack. You are always at the limit. It's difficult to describe. I always try to keep the whole system small in order to get pressure off the jump and to not push too hard towards the ski. But it's not completely stable yet, I have to be careful as well. The analysis is very important and it has already helped me before, for example at the Holmenkollen. I'm definitely not acting mindless.
FIS Ski Jumping: In summer many asked if you would continue or not. How serious were your thoughts about retirement?
Ammann: I have to state that more precisely. It was a short period of time after the Olympic Games. Then I actually announced it publicly after the Ski Flying World Championships, but at my age this sticks with you. If you talk about it once, the issue is always around (laughs). That's also interesting about Noriaki. It seems that these kind of questions are different in Japan, there the athletes jump longer anyway. Here you are considered old at age 30 and some statements are interpreted differently. Even if I must admit that these questions are also a bit my fault. I've not reached the point of retirement yet. Last year I just wanted to jump well again, so I could actually quit now, I've reached that goal (laughs). I think I never had a weekend with two wins before. I also never had a shared win before. This was really something special, like in Lillehammer 2006 when Andreas Kuettel and I had a double victory. And sharing a win with Noriaki is very nice. I already put some pressure on our chief of communication that I want a picture of this to hang on my wall. For me personally this was a historical moment in sports.
FIS Ski Jumping: You have not reached the point of retirement yet. Can Noriaki be a role model? Will you still be jumping at age 42?
Ammann: I have to leave that open. It must be worth it for me. The training is already pretty exhausting. I was just talking to my manager about how difficult it sometimes was in summer. And now I had such a great start. Sometimes everything is so very close.
FIS Ski Jumping: How difficult is it for you to leave your son alone now for the competitions and the training?
Ammann: It would probably be better to not jump that well, then I wouldn't have so many things to do between the competitions. I have to plan all that, but actually I knew what was coming. It's also nice to see that the little guy is a few days older when you return home. You really appreciate that because time goes by really fast. But this is not a burden for me.
FIS Ski Jumping: There was some progress when it comes to the younger Swiss athletes. Gregor Deschwanden is doing well for some time now, Kilian Peier was a positive surprise in summer. Will you have the chance to experience what it's like to stand on the podium with the team?
Ammann: I had actually already lost that hope. But this fall, when I was not in Klingenthal, Kilian suddenly did well. He was also very good at the World Cup opener. Gregor is currently struggling with his shape a bit. But sometimes it happens that, after you made some progress, it doesn't continue like that. I think that's a mental issue. He will be able to work it out. Then we are already three. The fourth guy is always changing. But things are moving forward. In February we are still an underdog, I can take the pressure off the team a bit. We will try to make sure there is a chance. We have this saying: Luck is, when coincidence meets preparedness.
FIS Ski Jumping: There is this one thing that you haven't won yet: The 4-Hills-Tournament. Was this a factor in your decision to continue?
Ammann: I still get a lot out of the success in Oberstorf last year. This is one of the best venues to win, very prestigous. Even if I couldn't win the 4-Hills-Tournament. But when we were in Oberstdorf for training recently I noticed that it became a very special place for me. I'm really looking forward to the start, but a lot will happen until then. Severin is already jumping very well, Noriaki is very strong and Peter Prevc is getting more and more consistent.
FIS Ski Jumping: Are the Olympic Games 2018 in PyoengChang an issue for you?
Ammann: I don't know. Basically there's always eight years between the Gold medals for me (laughs). So it would be my turn again. But on the other hand, you could also walk away from the sport proudly after a good year. I can't interpret the feeling yet.
FIS Ski Jumping: All the best for you and thanks for the interview.