Gregor Schlierenzauer: We are training very intensively, really hard.
MM: Is it important to train in the summer to be in shape in the winter?
GS: Sure. Your shape in the winter season depends on proper preparation. It results from your hard work during the summer.
MM: So how do you practise?
GS: It is mainly jumping.
Zosia Mynett: Ski jumping is a typical winter sport. Do you feel that media and your fans are less interested in your life and career during the summer?
ZM: Ski jumping does not mean only a sport you practise. Is sport a lifestyle for you?
GS: It is something really huge that I can do my hobby as a job and be good at it. Ski jumping is very cool, because not everybody can do it. It is the spirit of this sport, I think.
ZM: Standing on the top of the ski jump and waiting for your turn, are you scared?
GS: No, not really. I don’t feel fear – to us it is normal, although standing there on top is incredible! Of course, there are some situations, which are very difficult or dangerous, like strong wind. But then I feel rather humility, not fear.
MM: When you prepare for the season you need physical trainings, but you also have to be mentally prepared. What is harder to improve: your fitness or mental strength?
GS: I think that now all competitors are in quite good shape, we work out a lot during the trainings. But what is decisive here is self- confidence and your mental attitude. They make you win, jump well.
GS: I think that the mental training is important for everybody. In normal life you also have some difficult situations, when you need to be mentally strong. I think it is important in everyday life.
MM: You are 23. Can you say that you are mentally older than your peers?
GS: (laughter) I don’t know if I am. However, when you do a sport you think a little bit differently than other people.
MM: So sport and life are alike. Sometimes you are a winner and sometimes a loser?
ZM: During the competition you can often be seen with your headphones on, when you’re listening to music. Does it help you more to relax or to concentrate?
GS: Both. Sometimes you need an extra punch of motivation. Sometimes you’re a little bit nervous when 30 thousand people are shouting your name and you need some smoother pieces to relax. It depends on the situation.
ZM: What do you love most about ski jumping?
GS: (laughter): I think that the best feeling is the moment in the air, when you know your jump is really good or when you are flying 240 or 250 metres. The feeling in the air is unbelievable. That’s what makes us motivated to train so hard.
MM: When you decided to do the sport as a job, did you have to resign from something that you loved before or you can still do whatever you want?
GS: When you are young and you start to train ski jumping, you have to work very hard, you have to be focused on the sport, on trainings to get always better and better. Of course, other people of your age go to discos or have more time for fun with friends at night. When you are a sportsman and you are good at it than you have to be very focused, disciplined, sometimes even harsh on yourself. On the other hand, when you are good, your hard work and sacrifices give results. You can experience good emotions, feelings, you meet cool people, see other countries, you learn a lot. This is a really nice part of ski jumping.
GS: Yes, as you see. (laughing looks at Zosia’s t-shirt bought in his online shop)
MM: This year you made something awesome. You beat the record of Matti Nykaenen which had been set over 20 years ago. That shows how much you have already achieved. Tell me, where do you find so much motivation to be, all the time, in shape?
GS: It is not always so easy as it looks like. Of course, there are hard days like now, in the summer, when you train and your jumps get better, but you don’t know what results it will bring in future. It is not so easy. I think that the most important thing is to have a goal in front of your eyes and try to achieve it.
MM: You have also bad days?
MM: It is impossible.
GS: It is normal. (laughter)
MM: You have already said that it is amazing the feeling to fly in the air. Where, in your opinion, is the limit? What distance is optimal: safe for the sportsman and spectacular for the public?
GS: I think it depends on the ski jump size, but when I see the human’s power, the determination of ski jumpers and also the technical development, then I think we could fly over 300, maybe 350 metres. For me it is a very positive feeling. However, there is a question if it is good for the sport. Maybe 250 meters is enough.
ZM: I would also like to ask you about your family. We know that they always support you and they are very proud of your success. Does your fame, your popularity disturb them?
GS: I don’t think so. Firstly, it is important to have a good family which always backs you up and which helps you in every single situation, also when your jumps are not so good and you’re not so successful. Of course, popularity and success have good points, but there are also some situations which are a little bit strange.
GS: I am terribly happy that I live in the Stubai valley. The local people are very respectful and also very proud of me. They understand that being successful in the sport is not the most important thing in your life. It is very nice, it is an unbelievable feeling to be on top, but it is not the most significant.
MM: They understand that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose?
GS: Of course.
ZM: You travel a lot. What do you miss most when you are abroad during the World Championship tour?
GS: Well, I sometimes miss a little free time and private life of Gregor Schlierenzauer. When you are at home then you are alone and free, there is no hustle and bustle around you. On the other hand, when you are popular, have a contact with media, it is also nice. It is a part of the job.
MM: I am sure that not every victory is the same. You have your, let’s say, top victories, like the world championship, but do you remember some competitions which were not so important for your career but significant for you personally?
GS: Every time when you come back after an injury, fight again after any difficulties, it is always very important for your self-confidence. You learn that it is not always so easy, it is sometimes up and down. You have to enjoy your life when everything is fine, when you are successful. I think it is a key to celebrate every single success.
ZM: In Poland, do you know only Zakopane or have you ever been to another city?
GS: I was in Wisła, in Zakopane, in Warsaw at the airport, but that is all.
GS: I think we don’t have Polish cuisine in the hotel.
ZM: You should try it.
GS: We have to arrange it. (laughter)
ZM: Are there any food products which are forbidden to you?
GS: No, not really. I eat everything but mostly the products which give me strength. I sometimes also eat chocolate or ice cream. You need it to enjoy your life. Of course, when you are very focused on sport you need a proper diet. In general, you need to be perfect all over the year. Everything matters: your body, mind, equipment, food, family. When they are properly combined together, then you succeed.
MM: Does your summer diet differ from the winter one?
GS: A little bit, not so much.
MM: You need a lot of energy.
MM: Let’s get back to the photography. It is something totally different from ski jumping. Does it make you relax so that you can forget about the stress?
GS: To me, photography is an opportunity to see the world a little bit differently. When you take part in the World Cup, your days look very much alike. It is great when you can find some time to relax after hard work. For example, in Oslo I made a tour around the city in the morning and took some pictures. I had a lot of fun, it helped my psyche a lot. I felt free, the space of the city inspired me to fight harder in the afternoon.
GS: Sure. Everybody sees the world in his own way and it looks quite different for every person. Using the photography I can show my own world.
ZM: How do you imagine your life in 20 years?
GS: I don’t know.
ZM: Do you have any plans which are not connected with ski jumping?
GS: Yes, to have a family, sometime…
ZM: Thank you very much.
GS: You’re welcome.
interviewer: Zosia Mynett / Małgosia Mynett