TT - Watabe & Gruber:
"Winning the Summer Grand Prix together was
amazing and a lot of fun"
Summer Grand Prix winners 2013: Berhard
Gruber & Akito Watabe - Sandra Volk
It is well-known that successful athletes are made
in the summer time but the way to winter and especially
to the Olympics is a long one and it's not always
easy to hold onto a good shape. Summer Grand Prix
winner Bernhard Gruber knows this all too well from
his experience last year. For this edition of TUESDAY
TALK, fis-ski.com caught up with the Austrian and
fellow winner Akito Watabe from Japan to talk about
Gruber's brand-new album, the autumn preparation
and overcoming Watabe's "second/fourth-place
Berni, you already know the role of Summer Grand
Prix winner from last year and you were able to
take your summer shape into winter quite well. Is
there anything you would like to do differently
this time to make your winter performance even better?
Bernhard Gruber: The summer was very good and I
had loads of fun at the Summer Grand Prix again.
Standing on the very top of the podium together
with Akito was a new and interesting experience.
Unfortunately I have lost the thread a bit afterwards
in regards to my ski jumping and now I have to work
to keep up with the others.
For the rest of the autumn preparation, I just want
to work well and get back to showing good jumps.
It will be difficult to keep up with the other guys
as I can already see that everybody is in a really
good shape. But my goal is to close the gap and
go full throttle again.
I am feeling quite good in regards to the cross-country
part, though. I have trained well and being an older
athlete, I know what I have to do to get fast. I
will do exactly that so that I am able to have a
good start into the winter.
Akito, judging after the Summer Grand Prix, you
are on a really good way into this Olympic season.
How did the preparation since the SGP go? Did you
have good training camps in Europe?
Akito Watabe: I spent a lot of time in Europe in
this summer: 3 weeks in June/July, the Summer Grand
Prix time and 5 weeks in September/October. I also
went New Zealand in August and used a lot of time
for cross-country skiing on snow this summer.
I have also worked on my jumping technique quite
much. I had a good summer and I have the feeling,
I am on a good way. Everything is going well.
After you were a bit unlucky last season with a
lot of second or fourth places, you finally stood
on top of the podium (together with Berni) this
summer. Was it a relief to finally overcome this
Watabe: I think was not unlucky, just not strong
enough to win the race. I wasn’t a strong enough
sprinter on the home stretch. That is reason why
I finished with a lot of second or fourth places.
But I improved a lot of things in ski jumping and
also in cross-country during this summer. As a result,
my performance was totally changed and I finally
won the Summer Grand Prix together with Berni. It
was really amazing!
I hope I overcame "second/fourth-place syndrome"
with this. But I’m not sure because I finished fourth
in Villach and second in Oberstdorf! (laughs) Let’s
see in the winter season.
What are your goals for the first period of the
winter until Christmas?
Watabe: I just want to do my best. If I am able
to win some individual competitions, that would
Berni, after you couldn't talk about your CD before
the Summer Grand Prix, can you tell us a little
bit now of how this came to pass? Where can we get
the CD now?
Gruber: Well, I am nobody who has to shout everything
from the rooftops. During the summer, I needed the
time to work on this in peace and quiet. We wanted
to keep the album quiet for as long as possible
so that I could concentrate on my sport and not
cause too much furore. My bandmates have done an
amazing job for me so that we were able to do the
album quite quickly. It was a bit of a from naught
to hundred thing when we came out with a complete
album but for the creation process, this was the
The whole project was a present to me from my sponsor,
the Marktgemeinde Bad Hofgastein and the Music Gymnasium
Borg in Bad Hofgastein which I have also attended
for a year. Actually, this was a reward for my two
silver medals from Val di Fiemme and a really really
The CD will be available for purchase soon, our
main sponsor Stiegl is helping with that. We still
have to check if the album will actually go into
the stores or if we sell it only via the internet.
The Nordic Combined World Cup has not been in Japan
for quite some years now (since 2006). Is that something
you would like to experience again, have a "home
competition" in the World Cup, Akito?
Watabe: I’m hoping that this idea will come true
again one day. I competed in last World Cup in Japan,
I think it was in Sapporo. It was a really great
experience for me. In these days, many Japanese
people could watch “live” Nordic Combined in Japan.
That was amazing!
Japan is far from Europe and I of all people know
that it's a long way to travel and it won't be easy
to have it back on the World Cup tour. I enjoy competing
in Europe, for sure, but for me, most of the countries
have a similar "feel", regarding the culture,
people, cities, food and so on. I think for the
minds of the athletes it would be good to also go
to a quite different place! If Japan would go back
into the Nordic Combined World Cup calendar, it
would be a great trip for everybody, I am sure!