“The past season was nothing but sensational!”

With a fairy tale season 2016/17 behind him, freshly minted German national champion Johannes Rydzek is full of confidence for the upcoming Olympic winter. In TUESDAY TALK, he discussed his Olympic aspirations, the last preparations and how he can’t wait to compete with legend Hannu Manninen and Jason Lamy Chappuis again.

First of all, congratulations on winning another German national title in Klingenthal. What does such a title mean to you with an Olympic season ahead?

Johannes Rydzek: A German national title is something special per say. I was quite pleased with it, even if the competition revealed to everybody that we still have some work ahead.

You have achieved incredible things last winter but also had some painful defeats against Eric Frenzel. With some months gone by, how do you see and evaluate the past season for yourself?

Rydzek: The past season was nothing but sensational. These four gold medals from Lahti still are surreal. I am so thankful and very happy that I was able to have such a season. I was not able to end it with the last big victory in the overall World Cup but Eric really deserved his fifth title in a row. I have no trouble living with this result in the end.

What are your goals for the upcoming winter of 2017/18?

Rydzek: My first goal is to qualify for the Olympic team in PyeongChang. That's actually not so easy in a strong team like the German one. When this is achieved, it would be my dream to win an Olympic individual medal and with the team, we are going after the gold. It has been over 30 years since a German team achieved that the last time (Editor's note: 1988 in Calgary). I have not set any special goal in the World Cup since the Olympic Games are the big focal point of the winter.

The dominance of the German team was the big topic of the past winter. If you compare where you and your teammates stand now to where you were one year ago, would you say the other teams have to beware again?

Rydzek: I am sure that the other nations worked very intensively on closing the gap that we saw in the last winter but we’ll have to see how the first competitions go. What I can say is that we are very motivated to defend our leading position.

It’s really hard to say before the season start but what do you expect of the other teams and especially the “comeback kids” Hannu Manninen and Jason Lamy Chappuis?

Rydzek: It is so great for our sport to have these two big names, or actually I even have to say Nordic Combined legends, back. I am really looking forward to be able to compete with them again.

How will you spend the last weeks until the season start?

Rydzek: Starting this week, we are doing some training sessions on snow in Davos. After that I will take a little rest and go to a wellness hotel in Zillertal together with my girlfriend, to recharge the batteries. From next week on it is full throttle towards the season start. We are headed to Scandinavia for the last intensive preparations.