After a summer of exhausting training, 21-year-old Austrian Katharina Truppe is counting down the days that separate her from the start of her fourth World Cup season – there are only 23 of them for those who are itching as much as she is. Last year was her best World Cup winter to date, and she plans to go even further with her career in 2017-18.
Her journey on skis started on Christmas Day at the age of three, after she received her first pair of skis as a present. Even if at that time she was more excited about music than skiing, she soon joined the local club at Faaken See, taking a big detour from her seemingly promising career as a flutist.
Luckily for her, ski racing turned out to more than promising, and probably much more exciting. The technical specialist closed the 2016-1017 season ranked 13th in the world in slalom and 24th in giant slalom, with her career-best result in Flachau, Austria, where she finished sixth. She also hit her target of competing in the World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland. “The races at St. Moritz were not my best ones, but it was a fantastic feeling and I was very proud to represent my home country. And, of course, it was a good experience, ” says Truppe.
Although more consistent in slalom (her favorite discipline), she is also confident in giant slalom. “I have potential in GS too,” she notes, but she often made mistakes in the past that prevented her results from showing. At the Semmering World Cup, for example, she skied out at the last gate on the GS course – a mistake not all that uncommon with younger athletes. “Sometimes I act a bit brainless,” admits Truppe. “I mean, I’m 21 years old, my experience is not at the level of Lindsey Vonn’s or Lara Gut’s, but I’m looking forward to another great season.”
During her first World Cup season in 2015, Truppe collected a series of DNFs indicating a beginning to her professional career that’s somewhat more relatable than the exploits of wunderkinds like Mikaela Shiffrin.
Truppe has been part of the Austrian women’s national team since the 2013-2014 season. “The first year in the Austrian Ski Team took some adaptation on my end. I didn’t know the new coaches and colleagues very well, and I missed my ‘Carinthian’ local crew,” Truppe says. It was also the year of her first long trip. “We went overseas [to New Zealand] for four weeks, and for me it was the first long trip away from home.” But she certainly didn’t waste the experience on homesickness, bringing home her first Australian New Zealand Cup title in the summer of 2014.
Acknowledging that there’s more hard work ahead, “Kathi” has grown technically and mentally since her debut with the big dogs. She is happy with her summer training and has positive feelings for the upcoming season. “I think that my mentality and also my condition have improved.” She started the summer with a period of intense dryland and then was back on skis at the end of July in Zermatt, Switzerland. In August, along with the rest of the tech team, she flew to the New Zealand for a ski camp. In her personal blog, she shares the motto: “If you want to change your body, you first have to change your mind [Johnny Appleseed].” Along with traditional strength and conditioning, Truppe also includes yoga in her summer training.
Boxing was a new activity in this summer’s conditioning “It was really cool, and also very tiring as it engaged new muscle groups that got achy,” she explains. During the summer, Truppe and the team also enjoyed the Mediterranean Sea at a conditioning camp in Sardinia, Italy, where they spent most of the time pedaling up hills on the island while trying to work on their tans. “But I was still white…” she jokes.
For the young Austrian athlete, the road to the Olympics is paved with sweat. Her axiom, Alles opfern, literally translates to sacrifice everything. And she doesn’t show any hesitation to run the extra mile to achieve her goal.
“For every athlete, the goal is to win an Olympic medal. Also for me, it is a dream to be part of the Olympic team and for sure I will give everything from the beginning of the season till the end to be able to start in PyeongChang.”