Paul Gerstgraser knows how it feels when one race turns you from young, aspiring hopeful into a World Championship hero. The 22-year-old kept his cool and his team in the fray for World Championship bronze in Lahti but was also quite happy to return to normal, calm training days after all celebrations were over, as he tells in the latest edition of TUESDAY TALK.
Last season must have been amazing for you: improved to an overall rank 27 in the World Cup, one top ten result and a bronze medal with the team from the Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti. How long did it take to process everything after the season?
Paul Gerstgraser: Yes, it really was a great season. After it ended, I had many appointments and honorary events and I definitely have not been used to that. In the end, I was almost glad when everything was over and I could come back to focussing on myself and training in peace.
As the final skier, you had a big part in the Austrian bronze medal in Lahti and even beat legend Hannu Manninen in a very smart and brave race. Can you tell us a little bit how it felt to ski “your” 5 km of this competition?
Gerstgraser: It was a difficult race for me because I was quite nervous. When Hannu closed the gap in the first round and the whole stadium cheered him on, the atmosphere was just amazing. I am still happy I was able to spoil the party a bit in the end and we were able to prevail against strong opponents. When I crossed the finish line, I was just extremely relieved!
As you mentioned, there have been parties and events in your honour after the season. Can you tell us a little more?
Gerstgraser: Yes, there were a lot of events I had to attend. I was fantastic to see how many people were following what we did and were quite passionate about it. But yes, as I said, I was almost relieved when everything was over and I was finally able to enjoy some peace and quiet.
Coming back to the present, how is your training going at the moment?
Gerstgraser: Training is going well. We have been in Faak and Planica for one week and in Predazzo for a couple of days. Next to that, we are training in Ramsau am Dachstein a lot. They have perfect conditions for training and we can cut down a bit on the travel stress. We certainly have enough of that in the wintertime. Until now, I have been where I was supposed to be but at the same time, I’m glad that there is still some time until winter.
What are your goals for the upcoming summer?
Gerstgraser: I am working on improving my jumping. I would like to get on a higher level, so I can fight for the better positions a little more in the next season.
With the Olympics in PyeongChang, there is an important season on our doorstep. What are your expectations for the winter of 2017/18?
Gerstgraser: To be honest, I have not been thinking about the Olympics so far. I have enough homework to do still, so I only focus on every single day.