"I have not regretted one minute of working
in Nordic Combined!"
Nordic Combined was nothing that Austrian special
jumper turned success-coach of Austrian ski jumping
legend Wolfgang Loitzl ever wanted to work in in
this life. Still, he is the jumping coach for the
Norwegian national team in his fourth season now
and couldn't be any happier. Huber talked to fis-ski.com
about his way into Nordic Combined, his deep respect
for the athletes and his life dream of winning an
Olympic gold medal.
Nik, your career as a coach has been long, diverse
and crowned with big successes. Can you tell us
a little bit about what you did before you started
working for the Norwegian team?
Nik Huber: I have been a special ski jumper on the
Austrian national team. After ending my career,
I have been at the national training centre in Eisenerz
and worked my way into the Austrian Ski Federation
from there. At the end, I was the head coach for
the Continental Cup team.
During that time, I was also able to work with Wolfgang
Loitzl who is from my home village of Bad Mitterndorf.
With him, the mission was to win a World Cup. He
has always been a "team jumper" and we
ended up with him winning the Four Hills Tournament
and becoming World Champion. In the following year,
I had the honour to experience the same with Andreas
Kofler who also won the Tourney. So, yes, I have
been a coach for 15 years Е and then the Norwegians
How exactly did that happen, you changing both country
Huber: Their offer was interesting to me because
I had to make a decision for myself. Actually, I
never wanted to be a coach. I could never imagine
me being the type for that. Even when I started
to work as a coach, I always thought: "I can't
do it!" Actually, sometimes I still feel like
that today. So after 10 years of coaching, I wanted
to have a year off. At the same time I got an offer
from the school in Eisenerz and I actually wanted
to go back to have a more regular structure, to
not be on the road constantly and to be home more.
My son was born around that time, too, so this was
where I wanted to spend my time.
And then there was a phone call: Wouldn't you like
to work with the Norwegians? I said: "Me? In
Nordic Combined, as in "including cross-country"?
Leave me alone! I am a special jumper! I have nothing
to do with endurance sports! Never ever!" But
in general, I had to make a big decision: what did
I want? I had done everything you can do in ski
jumping and they were offering me the chance to
get to know something entirely new. And that was
thrilling. On top of that, I always thought, if
it's the German, Austrian or Norwegian national
team, you gotta do it. Well, then it was Nordic
Combined! (laughs) I had nothing to lose. And I
was the first foreign coach after Mika Kojonkoski
who was allowed into the Norwegian system. This
chance to expand my horizon was the deciding factor.
With your long years in ski jumping, you can probably
see the differences to Nordic Combined quite clearly.
What is special about Nordic Combined?
Huber: It's very time consuming and it's a tightrope
walk between endurance sports and ski jumping. We
jumpers used to say, Nordic Combined athletes are
only half of ski jumpers and half of cross-country
skiers. But by now Nordic Combined is happening
on a pretty high level. If you see how much these
guys train, their level of performance, it's almost
inhuman! You have to respect that. So I have also
started to cross-country ski and I have never regretted
only one minute spent in my job.
What do you like most about your job?
Huber: I love to travel and get to know different
cultures. We are so privileged to be able to travel
so much in these day and age!
If you had one wish to change something in Nordic
Combined, what would it be?
Huber: After the last two weekends, I am simply
wishing for a backdrop, a crowd like in Chaux-Neuve
or Seefeld. I would love to see something like this
Biathlon competition in the Arena in Schalke! A
big crowd for us! No idea how exactly that might
work but it would be paying the dues to what these
guys achieve every day. They deserve the big crowds!
What do you want to achieve with your athletes in
Huber: I have had a lifetime dream and it's Olympic
gold. I was not able to compete at the Olympics
as an athlete, so I was not able to fight for a
medal myself. But life plays in different ways sometimes
and now I am having a group of athletes and we are
in the fight for the medals. That's the best present
I could ever get and one of my biggest wishes to
be able to live this dream. I really hope it will
happen. I will do everything I can for that! I always
said, I am not working because I have signed a contract.
I am working for this dream to come true!
The best moment in your job so far?
Huber: Actually, it's not a moment for me, it's
a person: Haavard Klemetsen. Why? When I was 25,
people toold me "You're too old for ski jumping!"
So I ended my career. Haavard Klemetsen has gotten
better and better with age. He shows us that it's
possible to have great results also when you're
You have a lot of examples for that now: Ole Einar
Bjoerndalen who is in great shape. Noriaki Kasai
winning at Kulm. This shows us there's some enormous
potential for top results in these athletes of advanced
age. Haavard is on the best way in this direction.
He is an enrichment for the whole discipline. I
hope he will win everything! These are the best
moments for me, to be able to accompany him on his
journey and to see how he works his way through
everything. I wouldn't exchange that for the world.
This even means more to me than Loitzl's Four Hills