Everybody knows that Alessandro “Izzi” Haemmerle’s big strength in snowboard cross is his athleticism, but something that is equally if not even a tiny bit more important during competitions is an athlete’s mental strength. The 26-year-old Austrian proved to have nerves of steel in the past two seasons, where he managed to claim the SBX crystal globe in the very last competitions of the season – speaking of a last-minute decision!
But how does he prepare himself to be mentally this strong and how does he get ready for the upcoming season? Thanks to Ski Austria, we got an insight to Haemmerle’s thoughts.
In the past two seasons, the male World Cup winner in snowboard cross was crowned only at the very last race, where you managed to grab the wins in the big finals respectively. How do you manage to come up with this mental strength?
Haemmerle: Of course, it’s not an easy situation, if the crystal globe winner is only crowned at the very final race of the season. Nevertheless, I put pressure on myself at every race, to achieve a good result. That’s why I never check the World Cup standings before I enter the start gate. Also, tactical manoeuvring is not something that works very well in our sport, since the closeness of top-level athletes is very high.
I have been part of these top-level athletes for quite some time now and ended the past five seasons always with a result within the top-three in the World Cup standings, that is for sure something that helped me build confidence.
Can you describe the feeling of winning the crystal globe by winning the final race of the season, like this year in Veysonnaz (SUI) and edging off the very immediate competitor Lorenzo Sommariva?
Haemmerle: Lorenzo of course, like any other athlete in a big final, deserves a lot of respect, but I went into this heat with a lot of confidence, because throughout the whole season, when we faced each other neck and neck, I managed to win three times, and he only once. And particularly in this big final, I threw everything in that I had and fortunately for me, it worked out. Winning the crystal globe by winning the final race is a really cool feeling.
Right after the World Cup finals mid-March, a general lockdown was imposed due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. How did you manage to organize your training in the past weeks and how is the outlook for the upcoming months?
Haemmerle: After the Easter break, I started with my strength training in the Olympic center in Dornbirn. We train our stamina, coordination and speed individually according to our personalized training plans. We plan to start our snow training on the glacier in late summer with the whole team.
The FIS Freestyle and Snowboard World Championships are planned to take place in China in the upcoming season. This would be the perfect opportunity to grab a medal at a major event, wouldn’t it?
Haemmerle: First of all, I really hope that the global situation will improve and allow for us to have World Cup competitions, as well as the World Champs. Until now, I have participated at two Olympic Winter Games and four World Championships, but never was able to win a medal, because until now on the famous “Day X” not everything was ideal for me.
Of course, it is a big goal for me to win a medal at a major event, but you can’t force these things. Thankfully, I am only 26, so I should be able to get a couple of more World Champs and at least two more Olympic Winter Games in.
Check out our behind the scenes-feature with Alessandro Haemmerle, made last season at the World Cup stop in Sierra Nevada (ESP), when the outcome of the season and crystal globe 2019/20 was still open: