Norwegian shooting star Jarl Riiber had to go through a difficult period since he exploded onto the Nordic Combined scene in the 2015/16 season. The by now 20-year-old battled a shoulder injury for a long time but is ready to join the World Cup once more at the opener weekend in Ruka. For TUESDAY TALK, he looked back on this dark period, dished on the different superstar comebacks we can look forward to this winter and his own outlook on the season start.
You really had a difficult last season and had to fix your shoulder surgically. How is the status right now? Are you well and truly over the injury?
Jarl Riiber: Things went very well after the surgery but I have to say I was a bit nervous how it was going to go during the long recovery period and the many rehab exercises and such. But this period passed surprisingly fast and things worked surprisingly well until I was back again.
The Summer Grand Prix 2017 was a short one for you and most of the Norwegian team but you personally have one podium result to show for. How important was this step back on the international stage before the winter?
Riiber: The Summer Grand Prix in Planica was very important for me. I was quite short on competition type situations, actually in the two last years since the shoulder injury happened in Lahti in the 2015/16 season. The only way to get back into the game is to compete. Therefore you could see in Planica what happens when you don’t have a lot of competition situations and the nerves of being back together with the best athletes come in. But I am taking this as a good experience on the way to Ruka.
It will be the winter of comebacks of legends like Hannu Manninen and Jason Lamy Chappuis. Also in Norway, there were some rumours and talks about a possible comeback by Petter Tande… do you know anything about that?
Riiber: Unfortunately I have never talked to Petter himself only heard rumours about him. But any way, it is very cool that the “old guys” are coming back. For me personally, it is a little extra motivation to try and prove that you can beat them, so that you can say “I beat the best Nordic Combined athlete in the history books”! (laughs)
The big hill in Ruka should suit a fantastic ski jumper like you. With which kind of expectations to you go to the first weekend of the season?
Riiber: Hopefully I can go into the competition with a good feeling and deliver a normal performance on the track. I am quite excited about that. In the same period in the previous year I couldn’t do anything without thoughts about my long break due to the shoulder and my illness before the season. I am just happy to get going and just enjoy to compete in competition mode again.
What did you do after the Summer Grand Prix finals in Planica and how will you spend the few weeks until the season starts in Ruka?
Riiber: After the Summer Grand Prix, I prioritised a period with a little quieter training and tried to enjoy every day. I spent some days training in Malaga as well. Now we are in progress with jumping training at home in Midstubakken, which is my favourite gill and I hope to have found some good answers on the jumping hill. Additional cross-country ski trainings in Sjusjøen will give some confidence before the World Cup start in Ruka.