[Translated from www.xc-ski.de on 03/11/05]
We have seen great World Championships in Oberstdorf! I had a great time and proudly would like to give you a brief report about my races.
15k free style:
This race was supposed to be a warm up for the pursuit race. But it became much more then just a warm up. I got 8th even with a crash right before the finish line! This was my best individual result ever in a free style race. What a great start at the beginning of the 2005 Worlds! I tried to ski smart and wanted to check my shape. I got well into the race and did not lose too much time to the leading skiers. As I noticed that Italians Piller Cottrer, who started right behind me, was leading the race and fighting for gold, I slowed down a bit. I prepared myself to hang on when he catches me. This actually worked very well and we took turns in setting the pace. With 1.5k to go I tried to drop Piller to win some time and places. When I got on the last stretch to the finish I had bad luck. I caught with my right ski one of those trail marking boards on the ground and crashed down hard. That was embarrassing right in front of this huge home crowed. Luckily I got up quick and I probably lost only one place. This was a great start into the worlds for me and I build up a lot of confidence for the pursuit.
This was the race I really focused on and trained for throughout the year. I was very excite and looked forward to racing this race. But it happened that our whole team including me had a very bad day. We struggled with the weather, the waxing was more a lottery then anything else and shape this day was bad. Right from the start I was struggling with my race. The kick was very bad on my first classic leg and I hit the wall already at the beginning of the race. I somehow managed to stay in the race and even move up to 15th place before the change to the skate leg. But I had to invest too much energy on the classic leg to be able to have a chance on the skate leg. On the skate leg my only goal was to survive and not to loose too many places. I ended up as 14th and best German skier that day. This was a disappointing day, as my goal was a top 6 place.
The team had a hard time after this black day. We faced very critical comments about a debacle for the German team. From our perspective this was absolutely exaggerated and unfair. We have been an extremely successful and strong team over the last years. Those critical remarks pushed us as a team and we wanted to show what kind of a team we are in the relay
I felt honoured to be part of the German relay. It is definitely the main race of every championship. Already 4 times in a row at main events like Olympics or Worlds I have been selected to start for the German relay. My goal was to have a good start for our relay and keep us in striking distance for a medal. I wanted to show that the poor pursuit result was just a little glitch and nothing else. Now after the race, I have to admit that it probably was the hardest start I ever had in a relay. The first three laps were ok, but then it got tough. We were only five in the leading group and on the last lap we dropped one more skier. I had to battle to stay in the leading group with Norway, Russia and Italy. With only 0.9 sec back I send Schluetti (Andreas Schluetter) on the second leg. I guess I had to go at least 3 or 4 times over the limit during my race and was really exhausted.
Typical for a relay we had our ups and downs. I was thrilled to watch the battle for the podium. Schluetti lost a bit of ground to the leading group, but came back and caught up with Italy in third position. Then it was Tobi’s (Tobias Angerer) turn. He tried to close the gap with Italy’s Piller Cottrer to the leading teams Russia and Norway. But he hit the wall on the 3rd lap hard and lost a lot of time. At that time I almost lost all hope for a medal, but still believed in Axel (Teichmann). If someone could close the gap of 40 seconds to the third place then it would be Axel! Well, Axel skied like a madman, caught Italy (40 sec.) and Russia (1.30 min). It was unbelievable how he did that!!! We got silver. The first medal for our team. Certainly this is one of the most important medals I ever won.
It was like a dream came true when I got the chance to start the team sprint with Axel. After our good relay results we got nominated for the team sprint. I have been pretty good in team sprints in the past. In three starts with Axel we won three times. That was definitely good sign and I was fully motivated. After a tough semi final we got into the final. My legs were tired and I felt the pressure of high expectations from our home crowd. But somehow we managed to get our second silver medal! Great! Two times silver within 24 hours! If someone had told me that prior to the Worlds, I would not believe it.
The Worlds in Oberstdorf were a great event with lots of highlights. Special thanks to all the spectators who cheered in the stadium. It was a great atmosphere. Thanks!
In addition I have to thank our ski and wax technicians, coaches and all others who supported and believed in me.