This season was full of ups and downs for me and, both mentally and physically, it put me under more pressure than any other season.
Back in the preparation phase in August 2016 I was already struggling with back problems, so much so that I could only allow three training days for the speed disciplines during this period. The bad weather conditions in the subsequent training camp sessions in Saas Fee meant that I had only one day to practice. I had already made the decision there, especially in the Giant Slalom, to step on the gas, in order to steadily improve my form. Then I had that fall whilst training and fractured my shinbone and that spelt really bad news for both my plans, as well as for any form of worthwhile training.
Due to my injury my season got off to a very slow start and several times I was suddenly brought down by illnesses – a gastrointestinal virus and flu – that physically weakened me. My body, the most important resource of a top-performance athlete, turned out to be my greatest challenge this season!
I was, however, able to really get to know my new service man in the course of the season and, with every race I took part in, we were able to further develop the basis for our cooperation. Finding out how to handle each other took a little time, but now I am really pleased we managed it.
It was in fact clear quite soon that I was not going to be able to realise any of the plans I had made in the summer of 2016 – the saying “A good ski racer is made in the summer” is really true, because in the summer phase I was not able to get into a rhythm and then work that rhythm into the season. It was an extreme experience for me, and it pushed me to the limit in the course of the season. Nevertheless, I still tried to stay positive and continue my journey. I did not take things easy, but always tried to regain my former strength and worked hard on myself.
Even though the first races were difficult for me, I still noticed a clear improvement that started in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and went on to the World Cup in St. Moritz. My speed was good, my split times, too, but in the course of the next few races again and again there was no consistency, because the rhythm was not right from the start. And this was due to my training deficit. Unfortunately, the accursed hundredths did not help much either, especially when I came 4th in Cortina d’Ampezzo, St. Moritz and Aspen.
In this difficult season I have been through some important and instructive experiences.
My body is my most important resource: I will also focus on my body again next season and consciously try to feel how and when it is feeling good.
I have noticed that I have to find a happy medium between staying cool and stepping on the gas. I want to get better every day, not only physically but also mentally. Every time I do a training session I am going to ask myself: What am I going to learn today? What is my focus? What do I want to achieve? What are my limits?
As a high-performance athlete, I am going to change my routine and adopt a very aware approach to the way I ski again. I am going to challenge myself. I am going to change my perspective before each training session and ask myself, if I could work even harder. And I am going to continue to allow myself time to relax – because that is just as important as the will to take one’s performance to the edge. That is why I am looking forward to the next season with real motivation and great anticipation!