Team Seeks Stable Shooting, a Few Seconds on the Tracks
After an excellent 2013-14 season with two Olympic medals, Dominik Landertinger and Simon Eder 4th and 5th in the World Cup Total Score, and a strong fourth place in the Nations Cup, the Austrian men are looking for more of the same this season with a few improvements.
The small but high quality Austrians have a history of good team results; being consistently in the top five in the Nations Cup except 2011-12 when health issues undermined the team all season. They always have a solid relay squad, with plenty of medals and podiums even when they shift the personnel. Likewise, top-flight individual efforts are the norm, with multiple podiums and wins by the likes of Eder, Landertinger, Daniel Mesotitsch, and Christoph Sumann.
As the new season approaches, there have been a few changes, with the retirement of Sumann, Reinhard Gösweiner taking over as Head Coach and a revised training program. Sumann was generally a consistent and especially a big-game performer and a loss to the squad. Yet, this opens a spot for someone like the veteran Fritz Pinter, Sven Grossegger or Julian Eberhard; all solid performers.
Landertinger and Eder
Still the anchors for Austria remain Landertinger and Eder. The 26-year-old Landertinger left Sochi with Silver medal in the sprint to go with is relay Bronze; both of which fit in nicely with his relay Silver from Vancouver and the 2009 WCH Gold. His fourth place in the Total Score is just a notch below his personal best third place the previous year. Since coming back from knee surgery a couple of years ago, he now seems poised for more good seasons.
At the same time, Eder’s fifth place in the Total Score was a personal best, topping his 8th back in 2008-09. He was part of the Sochi Bronze relay team and claimed his first World Cup victory since March 2009 in Khanty Mansiysk. That 20-for-20 day offered a shooting lesson on fast, confident shooting to everyone in the field.
Mesotitsch remains a solid piece of the pie for Austria. He had a hand in the Sochi Bronze and made it to the podium in his favorite place, Antholz once again.
Focus on Consistency
Despite their success, Head Coach Gösweiner admitted that his team needed a few tweaks this season to maintain or improve their results. He focused on consistency at the shooting range this summer and awaits the results when the season starts. Landertinger worked hard on shaving a few seconds per kilometer off his track time; the difference between a victory and merely a top ten finish.
If everything goes as hoped for, this should be another banner year for the Austrian men.
To get a little more insight on their success, the summer and what is ahead this season, Landertinger, Eder, and Gösweiner answered a few questions season earlier this week during their on-snow training camp in Beitostølen, Norway.
Dominik Landertinger: Motivation Never a Problem
BW: Did your strong finish to last season, 4th in the Total Score plus the two Olympic medals add to your motivation to have an even better year in 2014-15?
DL: As motivated as I was last year, you can’t get more motivated. I won two medals and was fourth in the World Cup Total Score. Of course, it is wonderful to get this reward for my work. I am always fully motivated and never have problem motivating myself. Of course, if you are as successful as I was; this spurs you on even more. It is certainly even more motivating, if you see in the end that the training was successful.
BW: Now a couple of years past your surgery, do you feel like you trained at maximum capacity this summer?
DL: I have certainly used 100% of my potential and I trained very well and intelligently. And except for a minor infection in August I was able to do 100% of my training as planned.
BW: What were your personal goals in your summer training and do you feel you reached them?
DL: My personal goal was to improve my skiing performance; to close the gap of these 2 seconds that I always lagged behind. And I was able to stabilize my shooting performance. So far I stabilized it very well. I will only see after the first World Cup competition if I have closed the 2-second gap to the top athletes. But my test values have certainly improved and therefore I believe that I have certainly achieved what I wanted to achieve.
BW: What is your main focus this season—World Cup wins and Total Score, WCH medals or all of these?
DL: The overall package, the world cup and the World Championships.
Simon Eder: New Daughter Makes Biathlon Easier
BW: Looking back at that win in Oslo, did that renew your faith in your talent and provide a great stepping stone to this season?
SE: Of course this was a little more than the usual World Cup victory for me; especially since it was in Oslo and I got to meet the King of Norway. But it was more special as I thought about the Olympic Games and being so close to a medal and not making one. I was very happy to get this victory.
BW: Did becoming a father change your outlook on biathlon? Did it make your days easier or more complicated?
SE: Becoming a father was the greatest experience so far in my life. I thought that it might make things more complicated, but Marlene is a very sleepy little girl. She sleeps a lot and I have not had any problems with my training. I think having a child is an advantage because now there is something else so great in my life. It makes biathlon easier for me.
BW: What was your best training day this summer?
SE: My best training day was maybe the day when my little girl arrived. I was on my rollerskis and had my phone with me. After 20 minutes I stopped to call home since we knew the baby was close. I went home, took my girlfriend to the hospital and the baby was born. That was my best training day of the season, for sure!
BW: About that 8.15 second standing shooting: how many times did it take to get it that fast? Did your surprise yourself and is the 8 second barrier the goal next summer?
SE: Shooting 8.15 seconds was a challenge and lot of fun this summer. I have not heard there is a young Norwegian who is already faster than me, so we need to find out who he is. Of course it is possible to get under 8 seconds; maybe next year I can be the first one to do that!
Reinhard Gösweiner: Stabilizing the Team’s Shooting
BW: Having now spent some time on snow, are you feeling good about the quality of the summer training and where the team is at this point of the year?
RG: I’m certainly happy with the quality of our summer training. I think this was also reflected in the roller-ski competitions in the autumn.
Our current performance level is quite good. Of course, there are a few athletes who need a little more time to stabilise their performances.
BW: What was the biggest challenge you faced in summer training?
RG: We had a large team; there were many athletes, who all had different problems; the greatest challenge was certainly the shooting. Many changes were made on the shooting range and we hope that we will see the greatest improvements there.
BW: Do you feel this season will be more relaxed than and not as stressful as it is after many Olympic years or just a continuation of the strong finish of last year?
RG: I think this season will be just like the last season, because there is another highlight: the IBU World Championships. Our goal is to continue our good results of the last season.
BW: What will be the key to any success for the Austrian men this season?
RG: The key to success is the shooting performance; because it was there that we saw the greatest fluctuations in the past. We want to stabilize our performance so that we can achieve better and more consistent overall results.