Ulrike Graessler: "Competing in the Olympics again would be a dream"
In our series "FIS Ski Jumping-Talk" we present interviews with ski jumping athletes and officials. Today: Ulrike Graessler (28), German ski jumper.
The first ladies' Continental Cup more than 10 years ago, the first competition at World Championships, the premiere of ladies' ski jumping in the World Cup or at the Olympic Games - Ulrike Graessler was always there. The athlete from Klingenthal, silver medalist at the World Championships 2009, won 15 Continental Cups, was on the podium in the World Cup twice and has been one of the world's best female ski jumpers for more than a decade.
FIS Ski Jumping: Hello Ulrike. How did you spend the time without ski jumping?
Ulrike Graessler: I tried to gain some distance from ski jumping and it was time to relax, spend some spare time with friends. The period right after the winter season is the only chance to take some time off. But still I was in the gym twice a week and did some physical training. I also went cycling. In May I also had my annual week of training with the federal police in Bad Endorf.
FIS Ski Jumping: When you went on vacation, did you go to the beach or the mountains?
Graessler: Definitely sun! I went to the beach for two weeks. I spending time in the mountains all year long, so I prefer the sun and the sea.
FIS Ski Jumping: The German team officially started training again recently. What are the plans for the upcoming weeks?
Graessler: Over the next weeks we will have many ski jumping training camps, and then it's not too long until the Summer Grand Prix competitions. I want to earn my spot on the German team for these events and show good performances. I also want to fight for the top in the German National Championships in Oberstdorf.
FIS Ski Jumping: How would you sum up last season?
Graessler: Of course I'm not that satisfied with last season. I was able to qualify for the World Championships, but it didn't go as well as I would have wanted in the World Cup. After my appendix surgery one and half years ago I had to start training late and this showed again now.
FIS Ski Jumping: What goals are left for you as an athlete?
Graessler: After two years that were not that successful, I want to perform on the level I had previously again. It would be a dream to experience the Olympics again - but healthy and fit and not weakened by sickness like the last time! Unfortunately I caught a flu in Sochi at the worst possible time. At the World Championships 2017 I also want to be part of the mixed team again.
FIS Ski Jumping: How do you see the situation of ladies' ski jumping in general? Where do you see room for improvement?
Graessler: Girls at the hills are normal today, the dream of the Olympics came true for us female ski jumpers, competitions at World Championships have high ratings on TV, many associations promote ladies' ski jumping intensively - actually it's a real success story. But when I look last season's competition calendar with almost no events in summer and only 14 World Cups, then that's a pity. The very interesting mixed team competitions are not on the calendar. It's a bit better already in the upcoming season, but you have to be careful that the development doesn't stop. More Continental Cups would be interesting, especially when you are not on the World Cup team. And I would also like to have more competitions on a large hill.
FIS Ski Jumping: How difficult is it, as the "grande dame" of the team, do earn the spot against the younger athletes?
Graessler: Thanks for the "grande dame" (laughs). Of course the young athletes are moving up, but I focus on myself. I have to show my performances anyway!
FIS Ski Jumping: What headline would you like to read about yourself?
Graessler: Maybe "Ulrike Graessler is back to old strength". Or something like that.
FIS Ski Jumping: Then we wish you all the best for the training and the upcoming season!