“High expectations prove that we are a strong team!”

Antoine Gerard of the French team has had a whirlwind start to the season. A 23rd and two fifth places put him in the current ninth position in the overall World Cup. With the weekend in Lillehammer coming up, Nordic Magazine interviewed the team youngster about his great experiences in Ruka, the French team spirit and the upcoming Team Event.

Antoine, in the season kickoff press meeting in Paris in August, you announced that your aim for the 2017/18 season were some top ten results. After the first weekend, you already have two under your belt!

Antoine Gerard: Yes, I am very happy, this is such a joy to me. I was hoping to make some progress but I truly did not expect to be able to reach this level right away, from the beginning of the season.

What is your view on your amazing performance on the jumping hill and the cross-country track in Ruka?

Gerard: I was surprised to make this kind of jumps that placed me so well for the start of the race. Despite everything, I have had quite a challenging summer on the hill. I was very eager to get started and to find this feeling that helps me to get ahead in the competition on the jumping hill. So I was very excited in the past month and now I am happy to be at my best at exactly the right time. I worked hard and it pays off now.

On the cross-country track, it is much easier to start in front. I am at a good level with my shape and might even have a small margin to still improve. It was amazing to be among the people able to fight for the victory on the last 500 metres.

There was a lot of determination and the will to do well to be seen on your face. This attitude seems to permeate the whole French team at the moment…

Gerard: Yes, we are very motivated. We know that we can be competitive, we have confidence in our level and we have a strong team, allowing us to be calm and serene. The atmosphere is very good and we support each other. 

How did you experience the last lap on Sunday, alongside Rydzek, Frenzel, Hirvonen, Laheurte and Andersen?

Gerard: I was mostly focussed on my own race but it was a huge experience to be able to fight for the victory until the last 500 metres. It was such a pleasure.

In Lillehammer, you will very probably be on the team for the very first Team Event of the winter. With the kind of shape the team has been displaying, all kinds of aspirations seem to be within reach?

Gerard: Of course we have a strong team and a lot of confidence. We lift each other up. We can also feel that the expectations have grown a bit now but it’s good like that. It proves that we are strong and that’s pretty cool.”