Austria’s Lukas Klapfer was the Nordic Combined surprise of the PyeongChang Olympics: the 32-year-old from Trofaiach claimed two bronze medals with a World Cup record of one win and ten podium positions, individually and in team events. For TUESDAY TALK, he spoke about his current vocational education phase, new goals and why experience has become one of his biggest trump cards.
Lukas, you have just finished a phase of vocational education as a customs officer. Tell us a little bit about your past weeks.
Klapfer: I have been to Vienna from the beginning of May until mid-June and worked Monday to Friday. This was the first part of my education as a customs officer. But I was able to train quite well next to it. Now, I was able to clear my head and I can focus on the sport again.
How was it to re-join the team again after this phase?
Klapfer: After the long season, it was actually kind of nice to have some time to myself and so the setup was very good this year. Of course now it is amazing again to be on the road with the boys and to push each other to take the next steps.
With two bronze medals, you were the surprise of the PyeongChang Games for many Nordic Combined fans and probably at the end of all dreams after the past winter. Did you think before the Games that it might end this well for you?
Klapfer: Of course an individual medal at the Olympic Games was one of the biggest goals of my career but there are many other things I’d like to achieve in this sport. So basically, it all starts at zero again.
I also think many people did not see my success in PyeongChang coming but already in January I knew that I was in maybe the best shape of my life. So my belief in myself was big.
What few knew is that I actually caught a stomach bug 3 days before we left to PyeongChang. I was almost not able to walk up a flight of stairs, I was that weak. So at the Olympics, I wasn’t in that amazing shape from before anymore. This helped Eric and Akito to tire me out on the 10 km.
Which kind of bottom-line do you draw looking at the past season from some distance?
Klapfer: My season was a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. I was doing well at the important moments and that is the most important takeaway. Different recurring health problems did not let me have a constant, good season but I am working on avoiding these for the future.
Your home World Championships in Seefeld mark one of the highlights of the next winter. How do you look towards another important winter?
Klapfer: I take the home World Championships as a challenge. It’s too early to say if it has potential to become a second Olympics but I have noticed that my experience has developed into a big bonus when it comes to the big moments.
But first things first: summer training and the Summer Grand Prix 2018 are on schedule. Traditionally, you are not or only partially competing in summer events. What are your plans for this year?
Klapfer: That’s right, the Summer Grand Prix is not really my thing and so I will prepare for the new season in a different way again. I have planned to come to Villach, however, to see what the competition is doing and what I might still have to focus on until the winter starts.