By: Rick Halling, Atomic
Many of the top Worldcup racers switched to Atomic this past summer. One German coach made the remark, â€œIt is like the other ski companies are the tired old husbands who take their trophy wives for granted and they are surprised when the wives leave them for some handsome young stud. The athletes are like the trophy wives and Atomic is the handsome young stud. All the top athletes are leaving the tired old husbands and they are switching to Atomic.â€ Claudia Kuenzel of Germany is one of the top athletes Atomic â€œtook awayâ€ this past summer. The 28 year old native of Zschopau has earned Gold and Silver medals at the Olympics and the Nordic World Championships. She is recognized as perhaps the most versatile athlete on the Worldcup with victories in sprint and distance events in both skate and classic. She is also a respected artist whose paintings have received positive reviews by European critics. Claudia married former US coach Trond Nystad last summer. The following interview took place at the couple’s home in southern Germany.
CLAUDIA AT THE TORINO OLYMPICS
I have to admit that as an American I find it both intimidating and impressive when I am at an area where the German ski team is training. Part of it is the sheer size. On an Olympic year, how many athletes will the German Ski Team send to a place like the Dachstein for fall training?
The German team is pretty large. We have about 30 athletes at various levels of the national team, all of these athletes gets to prepare at Dachstein for the coming season. For World Cup we normally travel with about 6 women and 8 men.
Another part of the intimidation factor is the level of professionalism of the German team. Not only are all of you in the National Team uniforms when skiing, you are all in matching uniforms for dry land training as well. Even indoors, I noticed the German team was wearing matching uniforms by Adidas in the weight room in Ramsau. I know you have done some training with the US Ski Team. The Americans will do their dry land training in a hotchpotch of college and pro team t-shirts and a mix of soccer shorts and running shorts. They look like the cast from RENT. What are your feelings about the contrast.? Do you think the Americans might have a higher level of confidence if they started dressing more like a team?
Clothes never made then man — the most important thing is that people work out and approach the sport professionally. I find it pretty cool that the Americans have a variety of clothes to work out in. The reason why we all have the same clothes is because we probably have a much better deal with our sponsor than what the US Ski Team has. Sponsorships are always important. We have to wear the official German Ski Team uniforms at all official training camps and races and present our sponsors well at such events. Confidence comes from achieving your goals in training and in competitions, and not from the clothes a sponsor gives you. Uniforming is however important for team recognition.
THE INFAMOUS ROMAN TOFERER. NO NEED TO BE FRIGHTENED.