The leader of the French cross-country skiing looks back at his excellent 2010 season. He also speaks about his coaches and teammates. Vincent is fully focused at future goals and refuses to talk about his retirement from professional sports.
Q: Vincent, you will soon begin in a few weeks your 16th season in the World Cup. What are the secrets of your life at the highest level?Q
Vincent Vittoz: I am above all, passionate. I’m not an exception in the world of cross-country skiing. It is a sport where one can grow older quite well. The alternation of summer preparation, which is packed with different workouts and a tough racing season where we practice cannot make you mentally overloaded.
Q: This spring Pierre Mignerey left his post as team manager director and Christophe Deloche took this position. Does it imply any changes for you?
VV: Chris has been with the French staff for several season so he represents continuity. Naturally everybody has slightly different was how to present ideas but there is no revolution. Pierre is still partialy involved with French association and we will see him at every World Cup.
Q: You are known to have close relationship with your coach Roberto Gal. Could you tell us more about Roberto?
VV: Our story began 12 years ago. Since his engagement with the French team he has invested 100% effort for us and athletes trust him. He lives for our results and does not want to be too much in focus. It is sometimes hard to change his mind but when it comes to making decisions (e.g. waxing) he is particularly strong. He is especially a good group leader who knows how to create a good atmosphere by natural joie de vivre.
Q: Back to your summer preparation, did it go well? Did you follow the same training plans as last year?
VV: I have not experienced any particular problem, I changed some little details but 98% of my program remains the same.
Q: French team experience very successful season 2009/2010. One could regret that you did not win an Olympic medal. What is your opinion about past winter?
VV: Since 2004 we have known that French skiers are fully competitive wit others. Maurice came strongly into World Cup last season. We were several times very close to the Olympic medal so from this perspectve it was a disapiontment. We made the right choice of workouts and our results show that we were well prepared. Everything depends on details and we will optimze them to return home with medals around our necks in future.
Q: French team posses with you, Jean-Marc Gaillard and Maurice Manificat three leaders who can climb onto the podium. Is there rivalry between you?
VV: There is no rivalry among us. All three of us are very different and have own way of daily live. But we have the same desire to succeed by working hard. We are smart enough to understand that we need a strong team around us to develop but this is the same with the other guys in the team.
Q: In Oslo 2011 there will be 50km Free. We still remember the Pre-Worlds where you and Maurice did the race. Do you think about World Champion title?
VV: The 50km of last year will remain one of my fondest memories of my career. Make a 39km long breakaway with a teammate, making World’s number 1 harmless, the return of Piller Cottrer and hypoglycemia of Maurice gave even more spice to the race and I must say I was really happy to get on the podium in 3rd place in a great atmosphere. Now I know very well that every race is different even if the track and my opponents will be the same. One thing is for sure, world will experience real popular enthusiasm and all skiers have at heart to succeed in this temple of Nordic skiing, me first.
Q: But before the world championships, there will be La Clusaz, obviously you wish to succeed on your home ground as well?
VV: Naturally this World Cup is for me very special for me. I can not thank enough all the organizers and volunteers who work very hard to turn racing weekend in La Clusaz into success. It would be wonderful if I could follow up with successes from 2004 or event better with our 3rd place in the relay two years ago. Every time there were fantastic fans.
Q: Then there will be the Tour de Ski, what are your ambitions?
VV: Apart from my stage victory in Oberstdorf 2007, I have never succeeded in the Tour de Ski. It is true that I have gaps in sprints, I always lacked explosion and I will not get it with growing age. I am convinced I can perofrme better than my two 18th places overall. This year I plan to change my preparation a bit in December. It’s very complicated to be in top form throughout the whole winter. I often start the season very well with benefits of our training on a glacier in the fall. Then I usually have a small drop of shape in late December. I hope that I’ll find ways to perform better a bit more before the Tour.
Q: In the longer term, you’ll still be active in Sochi?
VV: I have not set a date. After the end of every season I will see if I still have motivation to pursue with training and desire for racing. I will retire on the day when I find out everything is too difficult.
Source: FIS/Mirko Horminal, ski-nordique.net