Severin Freund: We don't need
Severin Freund, fourth of the 2012/13 overall World
Cup, spoke to FISskijumping.com about the changes
head coach Werner Schuster brought to German ski
jumping and about the strengths of the German team.
Severin Freund / berkutschi.com
FISskijumping: Until Oberstdorf everything
went well. You were very successful, achieved lots
of good results, showed good jumps ... and then
in the new year it didn't go that well anymore.
Were you not in the top shape anymore or maybe were
you just tired after such an intense start of the
Severin Freund: I wasn't able to train normally
for a pretty long time in spring due to the injury
and so I was lacking some physical strength. In
addition the I was also surprised by how well the
winter started for me. I didn't expect to be among
the best again so soon, like I already was in summer.
For example, I never expected that I would win the
Summer Grand Prix in Klingenthal after my long injury
break. Yes, after Oberstdorf I didn't do that well.
That's how it is, sometimes performance curve is
on the up, sometimes it goes down a bit. It was
then a bit more difficult for me in January, until
the WSC it went better again and I did pretty well
there. Apart from the competition in Oslo I'm actually
also very satisfied with the events in northern
Europe at the end of the season.
FISskijumping: You closely, and at the very end
of the season, lost the third place in the overall
World Cup to Kamil Stoch. Did you think that you
would be able to fight for the top spots in the
World Cup again so soon after your injury and the
necessary break last year?
Freund: Of course it's a dream to win the overall
World Cup some time. It was definitely another step
forward this season, and if you start a season as
well as I did, of course you get asked about the
overall title. But for me it was always clear that
you shouldn't think about the overall World Cup
before the competitions of the Nordic Tournament.
Just like it was with Kamil now. He wasn't really
among the best for a long time, now he won twice
and achieved very good results in Finland and Norway,
scores a lot of points and now he's third.
FISskijumping: You grew up during the times of Schmitt
and Hannawald. When you were a teenager, did you
ever think that there might be the time of Severin
Freund in the future?
Freund: I never thought that about myself. I had
my breakthrough relatively late. So I went the usual
way of a junior jumper, the C-Team, the B-Team,
but I was never really one who was among the best
there. I improved constantly and scored more and
more points when I came to the World Cup. I made
constant steps, not huge leaps, until the 2010/11
season. Since then it went well for me. But I didn't
envision something like that, I jut happened.
FISskijumping: We were talking about Schmitt and
Hannawald - there are a lot of ski jumping legends
coming from Germany. Who was your idol? Is there
a jumper who was the reason for you to start ski
Freund: Honestly, I never had an idol, I really
don't know why. There were many jumpers I was interested
it, but I never had an idol I looked up to. Also
not later, because I think that ski jumping is a
very individual sport and you can't just say: "Okay,
I like what he's doing, now I'll do it the same
way." That won't work.
FISskijumping: You have a very young team. Do you
think that this is an advantage?
Freund: It is definitely an advantage. It took as
a long time to get to where we are now and that
we now have a team that's very young it actually
exactly what we've always wanted. With Michi Neumayer
we also have a very experienced athlete and this
is definitely very helpful to the very young athletes
in many situations. And as you can see, he also
became more ambitious now that the others are getting
better. But something like with Geiger and Wellinger,
that you have guys coming up and achieve Top 10
results right away, this was a huge goal of our
team. And that's why it's very, very good that we
were able to achieve that this year.
FISskijumping: You mentioned Michi Neumayer, but
you have an even more experienced athlete on your
team, Martin Schmitt. How important is he for your
Freund: If Martin Schmitt is in a very good shape,
he would be important for every team. Unfortunately
he was not able to get in his best shape this year.
At the 4-Hills-Tournament he achieved good results
and showed some really good jumps, but after the
that he never got on a roll this winter, so that
good results and performances just happen. And that's
why it didn't go that well for him this year. But
when you look at what he already achieved then you
see what he's capable of. And if he still has the
motivation then it's always possible that he shows
FISskijumping: Can it already be said, that you
are the leader of your team?
Freund: I think we don't need a leader. I think
are all on a similar level and the atmosphere in
our team is so good that we don't need somebody
who's leading. According to the results, it would
be me this year, but the others are not carrying
my bags because of that. And that's good. It's the
team that makes us strong and then the athletes
are able to show really good performances.
FISskijumping: 2007 Michael Uhrmann won a competition
in the World Cup, then the Germans had to wait four
years until you won in Sappporo. Was the pressure
especially high in Germany, did they expect you
Freund: Of course, if you don't win, it's never
good enough in a country like Germany. We have also
been successful at that time like, for example in
Vancouver. Of course everyone was also happy about
that, also the public. But you can always hear that
the times of Schmitt and Hannawald, with Salt Lake
City and after that, is still very, very prevalent.
So we can also play our part in creating a new era,
just like these golden times, and I think we are
on a very good way.
FISskijumping: Werner Schuster became the head coach
in Germany in 2008. What has changed since then?
He is an Austrian coach who is considered an expert
when it comes to working with young athletes. Where
do you see differences between his methods and the
Freund: A lot has changed for us. We broke new grounds
concerning the physical training, and made some
changes concerning the technique. But I think what's
most important is that the thinking changed and
that everyone involved, Werner, the rest of the
coaching staff and also the athletes, looked at
it as a new beginning. Step by step there were new
people coming up and so a new team developed, also
with the jumpers who were there from the beginning.
For us it was important that, when Werner came,
we still had guys like Uhrmann, Schmitt and Neumayer.
Even if they were not among the best, they were
important for the whole process, because besides
them there was room for us to develop. And that
was one of the decisive factors that we could become
that good now.
FISskijumping: At the World Championships in Predazzo
a mixed competition was held for the first time.
What do you think about this format?
Freund: It was definitely a very interesting competition.
Nobody really knew who would be the favorites. Everyone
thought that the Japanese would be able to do well
because they have Sara Takanashi and a good depth
on the team. Behind them a lot was possible. At
the end it was relatively close when it comes to
the places 2, 3 and 4. It was an interesting competition
and for us it's an additional chance to win a medal,
so: why not.
FISskijumping: In men's ski jumping the teams of
Austria, Germany, Norway and now also Poland and
Slovenia are very strong. In women's ski jumping
the teams of Japan, Slovenia, the USA and France
are doing better. Why are there these differences?
Freund: I think that in the USA they are having
a women's team for a longer time than in other nations
and so they are ahead and also have a bit more traditions.
It's the same also with some other teams and I think
that the others close the gap. A lot will happen
in women's ski jumping over the next years, there's
a lot going on because the sport is relatively young
and on a high level. But it's definitely interesting
and has a lot of potential.
FISskijumping: Are you satisfied with your fourth
place on the normal hill at the WSC in Italy or
maybe a bit disappointed? It was a better result
than at the World Championships in Oslo.
Freund: Yes, it was. Actually I'm more angry about
the individual competition on the large hill than
about the event on the normal hill. Because on the
normal hill it was pretty obvious that the first
jump was not good enough for a medal, with the second
one I got pretty close. A lot would have been possible
on the large hill because I like the hill and I
was in good shape, but it was a bad competition
for me. That was annoying for me, but the second
place in the team competition made up for a lot.
FISskijumping: Right after the individual competition
on the normal hill there was the mixed competition.
Was it difficult to find the motivation again right
Freund: Like I said, I knew that it was a good competition
for me, just not good enough for a medal. If you
want to win a medal you have to make to very good
jumps. And so the mixed competition was pretty good
so you can compete again and don't have time to
think about were you lost that 1.5 meters that would
have earned you the medal.
FISskijumping: What is your biggest strength in
Freund: I think my biggest strength is my ambition,
my will, that I just have the will to further develop
my performance year after year and I always find
new things I can improve in my jumping.
FISskijumping: Is there something about your technique
that you want to work on the most right now?
Freund: Yes. What makes me strong on the one hand
- the movement of the upper body at the take off,
because of which the body is accelerating - can
also cause problems from time to time. If it gets
too intense, there's not enough power coming from
the legs. And, like every year, I will work on that
in summer and try to make it more stable. This will
be one of my goals in summer when I have more time
again because I won't have to undergo surgery. In
general you can do more testing, maybe concerning
the bindings, and really work on the technique.
Because last year I started jumping again in July
and so I had no chance to do that, it was just about
getting in shape again for the winter. There was
not much room for stuff like that so now I'm actually
looking forward to the summer and to having more
time to analyze the jumps of the winter and see
what needs to be improved.