Approximately 2 weeks ago, Uwe Müssiggang, Head Coach of the German Biathlon Team, sat down for a short interview with biathlonworld.com while the German women were training in Ruhpolding. He provided some insight on the current level of preparations in the men’s and women’s teams shortly before the German Championships.
How has the training gone so far this summer ?
At the moment everything is going according to plan. We had some minor delays and a little reorganizing to do due to the weather. First we had an immense amount of rain and then the extreme heat to deal with, which of course meant that we had to react in the case of certain planned training sessions, but generally it is all going very well.
How is Miriam Gössner doing at the moment following her serious bike crash ?
She’s doing quite well at the moment and we’re generally just happy that she was so “lucky”. When you take into mind the four fractured vertebrae and the seriousness of the injury, it could all have ended much worse. So we’re just happy that she can start training normally again. Of course she’s still feels a certain pain, but that’s normal considering she wasn’t able to move properly for so long. Anyway we’re optimistic that she’ll be able to enter the season with a little delay. So we’ll have to see at the training camp in Sjusjoen (Norway) whether taking part in the World Cup makes sense or whether we should still skip an event or two.
Have any athletes surprised you this summer or developed faster than you had expected ?
Where we have seen a very positive development in terms of performance is in the case of Franziska Hildebrand, who has really improved a lot and that has surprised me a little. When it comes to the others, like Laura Dahlmeier or Franziska Preuss, it doesn’t really surprise me much, as we have been anticipating it and now expect them to get a taste for the World Cup and score some good finishes. Laura already showed us what she is capable of last year and we hope that things will continue to develop in this way for her and Franzi. Otherwise Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle has also left a very positive impression and has now settled in among the biathletes. She doesn’t regret the move and goes about her biathlon training with fun and joy, we also expect some good results from her and that would make us very happy.
Does that mean that Evi has made it into the World Cup squad ?
I think Evi has succeeded in a stable transition to the World Cup and will bring us much joy this winter, and as she herself has said, maybe one more winter after that.
Two former members of your World Cup squad, Tina Bachmann and Kathrin Hitzer, could also be seen training with the team today, how are they both doing ?
I spoke to Tina and she’s happy with the way she’s decided to do things. She’s also managed to remain injury-free and doesn’t have any serious health problems; the same can be said for Kathrin. They’ve both done things their way and we’ll now have to see whether it’s enough to also make the team and compete in the World Cup. We haven’t really had any possibility to see them compete, but they are both very optimistic and the German Championships should give us an indication of where they stand. That’s where we’ll decide who will come to the pre-season training camp in Sjusjoen or who maybe has to go to Ramsau am Dachstein before that.
What about the men’s team that is just ending its training camp in Switzerland, how are things going over there ?
According to the information I’m getting by phone, things are also looking good over there. The biggest worry there was Andi Birnbacher and the injury that he picked up playing football, but he’s back in full training and doesn’t seem to have any problems. So he was also quite lucky, but it’s difficult to say where they all stand. We’ll have to wait until the first World Cup to see, because we don’t know what the others have done and how they have prepared. We only know what we ourselves have done and that’s basically the same thing that we do every year. We feel we are on the right track, but we’ll only see what it’s good for when the cards are dealt at the start of December.
Did any of the men surprise you this summer ?
Well, no one really surprised me, but Benedikt Doll and Johannes Kühn are athletes who have developed in the way that we expected them to and who will have to gain the necessary stability to ensure that their showings in the World Cup are no longer cameo appearances, but the result of stable performances. They are simply young athletes where we have to expect such a development, but they both have their places secure in the team and are not hovering around as the seventh or eighth man. Their performances are up there with the best in the team, but as I said, we’ll have to wait a little to see what that is really worth.
It sounds like there are several younger athletes forcing their way both into the men’s and women’s World Cup teams, how important is that ?
Well, it’s actually very important for any team to have young athletes coming up through the ranks. Even when we speak of the older athletes, they are still under 30 and not yet old; however, a look at the top biathletes in the world shows that there are young athletes cropping up in all the teams and realizing great performance leaps. And that is a development that we can only expect at such an early age and not something that is usually seen among older athletes. The older athletes must then realize that this development also affects them. The performance of the younger biathletes puts pressure on the older ones to train harder; and with even greater determination, and to not ease or rest on their laurels. It is important that they don’t become content and satisfied, because that can be fatal for top class athletes. Contentment almost always results in a drop in performance.