Sports for Skiing – Marcel Hirscher Interview
Marcel Hirscher gave an interview with Maria Rosa Quario, an Italian journalist at “il Giornale”, in which he answered questions about his current physical condition and his training habits this year.
Below is an extract of the full interview from the 10th October 2016.
MR: How are you Marcel?
MH: Good thanks. The tension is building with the race season getting closer and my media commitments are also getting more intense. Lately though, I have mainly been doing 3 things: skiing, eating and sleeping. These are vital things to me.
MR: But 15 days aren’t that many! There are kids in ski clubs that have done 50 days in a summer!
(Note: In a previous interview Marcel declared he had spent the last 2 months training but had only spent 15 days on skis)
MH: Poor kids! I wonder what it will become of them! Joking aside, I think there is too much stress and focus on that; you don’t become champion at 12 years old and in any case not just by skiing extensively on the glacier during the summer; which I never really enjoyed anyway.
MR: So, how did you manage to become a champion? We understand you always won, even as a child!
MH: Yes, it’s true. But it was by practicing all-round sports, not just by focusing on skiing, at least until a certain age. As a child I use to spend 4 summer months at a mountain hut my father use to run above Annaberg, at 1,500m. I was surrounded by nature but without the snow! During the winter I used to ski a lot though, as my parents worked at the local ski school.
MR: You are 27 and yet you feel you are approaching the end of your career. Why is that, when there are skiers that keep on winning up until 35 years of age?
MH: I can’t say where I will be and what I will be doing at the age of 35, but I want to make sure that I can ski until 2018, two more seasons, then we will see.
MR: You said once that success is a puzzle made of many pieces. Your [..pieces..] seems to be always in the right place..!
MH: For me the Team is everything. It’s true that I am by myself at the start gate, but if I exit the start gate and my skis aren’t prepared well, I wouldn’t even be able to stay on my feet. If my legs weren’t ready, I wouldn’t be able to hold the best line, and if my press rep had organised an interview at midnight the day before the race I wouldn’t be well rested. I never win on my own.
Marcel Hirscher raises a variety of interesting points from a coaching perspective, which opens up the discussion:
1. Ski, Eat, Sleep
You can’t really get away from that. Train (how and when; yet to be discussed), eat and sleep.
2. Training the specific sport discipline all year round is not beneficial
In Hirscher’s opinion; to maintain his position at the top of the sport (and after a great career with 5 World Cups amongst others) as well as for children to become champions, year-round specific training is not necessary.
However, it would be interesting to know how much Hirscher skis in total during the year. Or how much he skied as a child per year. A long season from October to May maybe? Even with “just” 7 months skiing everyday, that makes up more than 200 days of practice..
3. All-round sports
Spending time training doesn’t necessarily means practicing a single, specific movement. Skills can be transferred across (with correct training and time) from one sport to another, and one sport can develop a skill as well as, if not better, than it could be developed in the discipline where it is needed.
4. His parents worked in a ski school
For success in elite level athletes, it is essential to be able to rely on a coach from an early age. Generally speaking, being able to rely on a coach with a broad sports knowledge can help anybody maximise effort and time spent training (see: reaching success at any level).
5. Setting goals with the right timeline
The athlete needs to visualize the results he wants to achieve and prepare himself for the necessary efforts to achieve it.
This is also where coaching become decisive and where the good coaches distinguish themself from the average ones. Being able to plan ahead of your athlete’s mind and working today to pick up results tomorrow, next week, next month, next year and beyond, without burning your athlete today because “glory can’t wait”.
6. “Team is Everything”
Great results aren’t achieved in isolation. As Prof. Tudor Bompa said “miracles only happens to well-trained teams”.
It is a special moment in a coach life to be remembered and thanked by the athlete in the moment of victory (as well as in the moment of difficulty). A good example of fair play there by Marcel.
Good luck to Marcel Hirscher and to all the athletes that will be competing soon.
Sölden is here.
Winter can Start.
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