With five gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze medal, Karl is the most successful snowboarder in World Championship history. He wants to extend this record on Sunday in the parallel giant slalom, the first World Cup competition, and the parallel slalom, in which he is the defending champion on Tuesday.
“I’m still driving to be successful. I feel in great shape and have a chance of winning the world title in both competitions. Of course it’s about taking home a gold medal. The more you build on your records, the longer they will last,” explained the veteran. With a sixth triumph he would also catch up with the women’s record holders Karine Ruby from France and the American Lindsey Jacobellis.
Only 2019 without a World Cup medal
Karl is almost a medal bank, since he only went empty-handed in 2019 since his World Championships debut in 2009 and has also won medals in three of his four Olympic appearances. “What helps me the most now is the routine. I know how I want to feel when I go there. The feeling of trimming there always works very well,” said Karl.
In any case, he has a good feeling about his board, which he has been developing for a year. Instead of the aluminum layer with titanium alloy that has dominated snowboard construction for two decades, he and his team rely on carbon, explained Karl. Immediately before the Olympic Games last February, he switched to the new material and went gold with it. “At the Olympics, it was a ‘lucky shot’,” he explained.
Lots of work to find materials
But he doesn’t want to rely on chance and luck, since then he’s been working on the further development. “We had a lot of work to find out which material works well in which conditions. These are often small things. We had major problems at the beginning, especially in the slalom, but now I’m regularly setting personal bests. From autumn to now we have made up 1.5 seconds,” said Karl.
“We’ve come very, very far,” he emphasized, referring to the last World Cup station before the World Championships, when he won a giant slalom in Blue Mountain, Canada, at the end of January. Since then, he has been working on the set-up and finishing touches to convert consistent top-eight World Cup finishes into World Championship medals. “I would like to ride up front, I have the chance and the opportunity because we are already so far in the development.” He also already knows the slope. Immediately after the Olympics, he said goodbye to the hustle and bustle, flew to Bakuriani and completed a European Cup race.
“A little more relaxed”
Because even after he had fulfilled his lifelong dream with Olympic gold, he wasted no thought of retiring. “I never thought about retiring. I can approach things a bit more relaxed, but I’m no less ambitious. All in all, the vision is to develop something new, to launch with a new board brand and that sooner or later we will get there in development, that we might go one step further than everyone else. That’s what still drives me and motivates me the most,” he explained.
Last but not least, his teammate Andreas Prommegger is an incentive. “Andi helps me a lot, you can see that I can still go a long way,” he said with regard to the 42-year-old, who is still achieving podium places and victories.