Thinking about the unluckiest athlete of the past season, Norway’s Jarl Riiber is quick to come to mind with his multiple shoulder dislocation and the following surgery. But actually, Riiber is not the only one, who suffered such misfortune. Injuring himself in a competition crash during a cross-country race, Polish hopeful Szczepan Kupczak had to walk the same path, all the way until a final surgery fixed the problem. In TUESDAY TALK, he speaks about those hard times and the plans for his return.
Last year, you were equally unlucky as Norway’s Jarl Riiber. You dislocated your shoulder multiple times and had to have surgery. How did everything go and how is the shoulder now?
Szczepan Kupczak: Unlucky... I’d rather call it ill-fated and awful! Really, I’d rather like to forget that part of my career. But finally, this is behind me or at least I hope so. The surgery was was successful and I spend a lot of hours in rehabilitation. Huge thanks to my physiotherapists who put in a lot of work with me. I think I'm ready to close the door on this chapter now.
What have you done with all the “time off” during the injury?
Kupczak: When I was injured and excluded from normal training, I tried to train as much as I was able to. I spend a lot of time on stationary bike, my room was my small private gym (laughs). It was funny in the first few days and I was happy to just do something! But hardest part during that time was when that thinking came in. A lot of things were going on in my mind: “What now, what's next, how will it go, when…?”. During all this time, I tried to stay motivated and optimistic but it was hard to stay tuned all the time.
Family and friends were really helping me a lot. Without them I'm sure I would have ended my career. But they supported me all the way and now, I will fight for them!
How is training going at the moment? What are the most important things to work on for you?
Kupczak: As always, I have a lot of things to do. I want to improve my ski jumping even more. That's the part I'm good at, so I want to exploit that. Of course I can't forget about my cross-country skills but I'm sure I'm on a good way to make huge steps forward and show that in winter!
Which kind of training camps are on schedule for the team until the Summer Grand Prix?
Kupczak: We have the plan to train in Planica, then in Oberhof and between that we will train hard at home.
Will we see you competing during the summer?
Kupczak: If I will to be able to fight on a competitive level, I will take part in some competitions of the Summer Grand Prix. I will really try to be there but I my big goal is to be at Olympic Games, that's my priority right now. But first I need to get the necessary qualification and that's another point why I'm angry and disappointed about last season.
The Polish team got a new head coach this season. How has the cooperation with Danny Winkelmann been so far?
Kupczak: In my opinion, Danny is good a man. He is really helpful with a lot of ideas and a lot of knowledge. On top, he is a very communicative person so it's good for me because I need to train my English, and there is no better school than talk with someone. He wants to learn Polish as well and sometimes we have a lot of fun about how he tries but he makes progress step by step and now he's not so bad. (laughs)