Since 2011, Austrian Alexander Stoeckl his the head coach of the Norwegian ski jumpers. Last year he extended his contract until 2022. Stoeckl, who celebrated his 45th birthday this week, is equally popular and successful in Norway, but the Austrian is still lacking one thing in his collection of titles.
The Norwegian team won the Nations Cup three times (2012/13, 2015/16 and 2017/18) with Stoeckls as the head coach, Anders Bardal, who already retired, won the overall World Cup 2011/12.
What Stoeckl hasn't won yet with his team is one of the major tournaments, the 4-Hills-Tournament or the Raw Air. The last Norwegian who won such a title was Anders Jacobsen in the 2006/07 season.
"The big tournaments are important for us, that's why winning either the 4-Hills-Tournament or the Raw Air is our goal for this winter", said Alexander Stoeckl.
Nations Cup and Olympic Gold
"We were really good as a team in the recent years and last winter we won the Nations Cup and Olympic Gold in the team event. But we are still struggling in events that require consist top performances over a longer period of time. The 4-Hills-Tournament and the Raw Air are such events in which you have to be among the very best with each jump if you want to win the overall title. Our athletes can always be among the best, but they also often have jumps that are not good enough to finish on top. We are working hard on that, we have to be more consistent, and we are getting better and better", Stoeckl explains.
"We are working on many details in order to optimize the performance. This is also about logistical issues, sleeping habits, media schedules, we test everything that takes energy and optimize it. It is a big challenge to fully control all of these factors. The biggest challenge is to get the athletes to perform on their highest level all the time."
A strong team is important for overall titles
"We still want to have a strong team and fight for top results with more than one athlete. This is important in order to take overall wins. You can see that with the Polish team and it also was the case in Austria, when they were on top they always had two or three athletes among the very best in Bischofshofen", said the 45-year-old.
Recently, Alexander Stoeckl was working on an important problem with his team. "When it is windy in the first part of the flight, then we have the feeling that we have to fight more than others. During this summer and fall, we tried to work on that and the athletes are now more stable in the first phase of the flight. We hope that we will also have some luck with the conditions this time because it can get difficult in Oberstdorf with wind and snow. The conditions are rarely stable there, but this is not an excuse."
You have to think about the present, not the consequences
In the 2016/17 season, Daniel Andre Tande was close to winning the 4-Hills-Tournament, he lost his chances to claim this title in the final event in Bischofshofen. "I don't think, that, as a coach, you can do anything differently in such a situation. You can't do anything when the jumper sits on the starting bar. Then the athlete has to be 100 % ready. What we have done differently afterwards, is that we helped the guys to be better prepared. They are now more professional and have a better routine in the competitions. Some athletes fail in the most important moments. I think that happens when you think too much about the consequences and not the present. You lose the focus on the jump and already think about the podium and the trophy. This is challenging, not only in Ski Jumping, and we are constantly working on it. And also the experience is important in such moments", said Stoeckl.
When asked if he would be disappointed if his team wins medals at the World Championships in Seefeld but no overall title, the Austrian answered: "No, it would be nice, but we wouldn't have achieved our main goal - winning the 4-Hills-Tournament or the Raw Air.
Remain calm and keep working
At the beginning of this season, it didn't go that well for the Norwegians, but that changed with Johann Andre Forfang's win in Nizhny Tagil. "What I liked most during this period of time was that the athletes and the coaching staff remained calm and kept on working constructively. Of course, the expectations were high. That's normal after our success last winter. We have to live with criticism and pressure when it's not going well. Our potential is a lot higher than what we showed in the 2018/19 season so far. When the results were not that good at the beginning of the season we watched the videos, analyzed them and discussed possible solutions. We have been working hard and the situation is now different than a couple of weeks ago."
Criticism helps us
Alexander Stoeckl can handle the criticism after bad results. "You can't control this. But the only ones who know where we stand where we are and how we can solve the problems is us. It's totally okay that people on the outside have their opinion and express it. I like that there's criticism because it helps us rethinking everything we do. We do our best and work as hard as we can. It's good that people concerned about it, it's better as if no one would be interested in what we do."