Relay silver for German cross-country skiing women at the Nordic World Ski Championships

EPeter Schlickenrieder actually wanted to go jogging on Thursday. But his cross-country skiers have prevented this in a highly successful way. Not only the team boss, but also Laura Gimmler, Katharina Hennig, Pia Fink and Victoria Carl needed a long time, a very long time, to complete the following interview marathon in the cross-country arena after the coup on the cross-country ski run.

Silver with the women’s relay at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Planica, the first medal for the German cross-country skiing team at a World Championships since 2011: In the Valley of the Hills, where Andreas Wellinger and Karl Geiger also want to achieve great things on the large hill this Friday, the German Ski Association provided a highlight with its women who run in classic and free style. “This silver shines like gold,” said Schlickenrieder after the race, in which the quartet literally showed a strong team performance. “Today was a very important milestone.”

“Cross-country skiing is also a lot of fun”

So the German cross-country skiers are steadily on the up. A German women’s relay team had already taken second place at the Olympics in Beijing, and the fact that the duo Hennig/Carl even landed the big hit and spectacularly won the team sprint set things in motion and kicked things off. “Cross-country skiing is not just hard work,” said Schlickenrieder on Thursday in Planica. “Cross-country skiing is also a lot of fun.” Schlickenrieder is convinced: “Germany is a country for cross-country skiing. We have many low mountain ranges, we are prepared for climate change.”

And apparently also to annoy the big cross-country skiing nations. On the fourth-to-last day of the World Cup in Slovenia, the women’s quartet again succeeded in defeating the Swedes. Pia Fink experienced the “cross-country skiing week of her life”, as she later said, because she had managed to leave behind Frida Karlsson, who was considered to be almost unbeatable. “I lost her. She was even flatter than me and suddenly there was a gap.” The German bravely took the opportunity to pull away decisively.

Final runner Victoria Carl knew “that I couldn’t start too fast” and with a lot of experience she managed “to secure the medal. I had mentally prepared myself in advance for a sprint to the finish line. But that wasn’t necessary.” Also because the “world’s best diagonal runner”, when Schlickenrieder described Katharina Hennig, who was in second place, ran an outstanding five-kilometer lap. “My focus was on the last snapper,” said the Erzgebirge native in her analysis. “That’s where I attacked.” In the end, it was a lead of 8.2 seconds that secured second place in front of the third-placed Swedes. 20.5 seconds ahead of the German women, four beaming Norwegians formed a lucky ball in the finish area.

Four-way battle for the medals: the German squadron asserts itself between Norway, Sweden and Finland

Four-way battle for the medals: the German squadron asserts itself between Norway, Sweden and Finland

Image: Reuters

For 26-year-old Katharina Hennig, one thing is certain: “The knot burst at the Olympics. The fact that we won silver at the World Championships today is not luck, it’s hard work.” The cross-country skier, who lives in the Allgäu, was “very proud” of second place. “It’s one thing to do it once. Confirming that is another.”

Material, performance, attitude: it all fitted and harmonized perfectly with the German women. “We do our stuff,” said team boss Schlickenrieder. “It’s the reward for all the work, all the stress, all the effort.”

Part of the effort is also the guild of trainers, which was reorganized. The fact that two new discipline trainers, Per Nilsson and Marc Steur, have been working for nine months has helped the entire cross-country skiing team further. “You have to have eight athletes each for women and men who are capable of fighting for the podium,” said Schlickenrieder about the strategic orientation. “Success is also possible for men.” It’s already there for women. It cannot be ruled out that Katharina Hennig will achieve great things again in the 30-kilometer race on Saturday. “Everything is done, the backpack is gone,” she said. “Now I just want to enjoy.”


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