It’s been a busy few weeks for Germany’s Felix Neureuther. Between his preparations for the upcoming World Cup season, the Garmisch-Partenkirchen native managed to find time to publish his own children’s book as well as become a father to a baby girl.
The book, titled “Auf die Piste – Fertig – Los! (On the Slope – Ready – Go!)” is aimed at encouraging children to lead an active lifestyle. For this project, Neureuther was supported by German soccer World Champion Bastian Schweinsteiger, who currently plays for the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer (MLS) and is one of Neureuther’s closest friends since childhood.
Neureuther tells the story of Ixi the fox and his friends Basti the husky, Miri the bunny, and Marcello the deer as they compete together in various outdoor activities. Neureuther didn’t have to look far for inspiration for his characters as Ixi is based on himself, Basti on Schweinsteiger, Miri on Neureuther’s girlfriend and German biathlete Miriam Goessner, and Marcello taking inspiration from Neureuther’s biggest opponent on the World Cup over the past years, Austrian superstar Marcel Hirscher.
The book is important to Neureuther as he believes that children need support and encouragement in order to live an active life. All sales revenue from the book will go to Neureuther’s “Get Smart” foundation with the goal to improve children’s concentration and learning skills through movement exercises.
“My biggest concern has always been to motivate children to move, outside in nature if possible,” he says. “Since there is no better toy for me than snow, the plot of this book plays outside in the snowy fairytale landscape of the mountains.”
This book is not the first project of Neureuther’s with the goal to fascinate children with sports and give them the ability to develop an active way of life. Neureuther is also the head of a national campaign in Germany called “fit4future” which concentrates on educating kids between the ages of 6-12 years about nutrition, fitness, and mental health. Neureuther has also worked on a book in cooperation with the fit4future campaign called Be Smart in the past and published a training book in 2009.
Neureuther, who obviously cares deeply about children, will now take responsibility for his own as he and Goessner welcomed their first child, Matilda, into the world on Oct. 14.
As a young father, Neureuther knows this Olympic winter will be a different season than the past. With a solid preseason of training under his belt without the injuries of previous years, Neureuther looks to take this season on with renewed aggression, although he admits that he believes the new 30-meter giant slalom skis might not be the best move going forward despite some perceived benefits.
“Summer went pretty good so far,” he says. “I was struggling the last years with my back quite a lot and this year I was in New Zealand for four weeks and two weeks in Switzerland. I could do all the summer preparations so my body feels good. The new skis will allow us to ski more aggressive and merciless and this will result in higher speeds.”
According to Neureuther, the higher speeds won’t help to reduce the amount of injuries within the sport.
On the surface, it seems to be a perfect start for an Olympic season for the German. However, Neureuther has said that his enthusiasm for the PyeongChang Games has decreased due to the ongoing political tensions in the region. He even expressed entertaining the idea of not competing if the situation escalates further.
“I am becoming a father now and there comes responsibility with it,” he told the German media. “Should I go over there with a clean conscience if I’m skiing slalom and there are rockets flying 80 kilometers away? What’s going on there?”
Neureuther has also expressed support for the statements made by France and Austria to possibly not send delegations to the Games if the security situation is not properly dealt with. Furthermore, he expressed his dismay at the lack of action from the German National Olympic Committee on the topic.
Even though PyeongChang could be Neureuther’s final Olympics, he says that his dream would be to continue skiing for four more years and compete in Beijing in 2022. However, there are many questions that need to be answered before he can make a decision about the end of his career including his physical shape and the future coaching staff of the German men’s team.
Thankfully, these and other questions that will influence Neureuther’s decision about continuing his racing career are not currently in his mind as he says he will only re-evaluate his situation once this season is over.
“Now, I have to do my job for my family,” he says. “Of course, it’s a huge motivation for me but on the other side, to leave home for training and competitions will be a challenge.”
Neureuther will make his 2017-18 World Cup debut in the slalom in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 12.