Sven Hannawald, when you think back to your touring triumph today: which image appears first in your head?
The most striking picture is when Reinhard Heß and Wolfgang Steiert carried me on their shoulders at the ski jump in Bischofshofen. I will never forget how I felt triumph at that moment in front of all these German flags. The picture was also a symbol that you cannot win this tour alone, but that it is always a team success.
The former national coach Reinhard Heß died in 2007. Are you still in contact with ex-coach Wolfgang Steiert?
Little. It just doesn’t happen because of my family and the children. But since there is supposed to be a jumping in Titisee-Neustadt in the Black Forest as a replacement for the canceled World Cup in Sapporo this winter, I hope to see Wolfi there. My most frequent contact with colleagues from back then was with Martin Schmitt, because he also works as a TV expert.
You worked together with Martin Schmitt for a long time at Eurosport, now you are on the jump for ARD. There is a special story behind it …
I am happy with the chance to come back to where I have been before. In 2005 I was part of the team with Reinhard Heß as the expert and Monica Lierhaus as the presenter at ARD. “Hanni’s World” was my rubric. At that time I reported on my career experiences and, for example, moved into beds in our accommodation in Lillehammer (laughs). I just couldn’t continue my work at that time. Olympia in Turin was just around the corner. I would have been there for two weeks. It created so much restlessness in me that I just couldn’t make it and had to stop at ARD. At that time I learned that you have to listen to your inner feelings. I just didn’t have enough distance from ski jumping.
After your touring triumph, you slipped into burnout …
I used to give everything for this sport as a ski jumper. I did not allow myself to take breaks. I didn’t listen to my body. And then there was a bang. I had to let go of ski jumping because it just couldn’t be anymore. From that I learned at least as much as from all of my sporting successes.
You have two young children of your own at home. For example, how do you deal with the stress before your job on the Four Hills Tournament?
Of course, despite my experiences, I still get stressed. But I perceive the signs more intensely. Of course, on a World Cup weekend like this, I can’t just say: now the jumping has been postponed by two days. But I can put two or three red X’s on the calendar on the days after that. There is nothing professional going on. And I’m just there for family and children.
The German top pilot Karl Geiger is now a father. He goes into the tour as the overall World Cup leader and thus automatically as a top favorite. Will you finally get a German successor in the next few days?
Karl does not let himself be disturbed by a bad training jump. In addition to his consistency, that’s a great prerequisite for winning the tour. I thought last year that the prerequisites for an overall German tour victory were better than ever. Now they are even better. However, this winter Karl is the only one who keeps the fire burning from a German point of view.
This time it seems to be a duel between Karl Geiger and the Japanese Ryoyu Kobayashi. Who is your favorite?
The two are two different types of jumpers. With Karl everything stands and falls with the jump. And he almost always gets it right on time. Nobody in the field of top ski jumpers has similar qualities as him. Kobayashi is more of a guy like I used to be. He doesn’t take as much height as Karl when he takes off, but more speed. It’s like an aggressive arrow in the air. He is therefore not that high above the slope and can therefore land jumps in larger areas better than Karl. That can be an advantage for the Japanese.
Can other jumpers intervene in this touring duel?
Don’t forget Stefan Kraft from Austria, he has already won this winter. He has gained a little body weight, so he can jump a little longer skis and is now more in the direction of Kobayashi in terms of technique. So far he has not been stable with it, but if it clicks with him, then with his experience and the successes behind him it really goes off. The Norwegians Granerud or Lindvik also have a similar style and the potential to attack at the very front. But I hope that after 20 years I will finally get a German successor!