The Rise Of Rebensburg
In October 2016 – just weeks before the World Cup opener at Soelden – German World Cup veteran Viktoria Rebensburg suffered a leg injury that sidelined her for the start of the season. After enduring a rushed rehab, she was able to return in time for the November giant slalom in Killington. She now looks forward to the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in February 2018 where she hopes to chase more medals.
“Already in August 2016, I had back problems and was able to complete only three training days in the speed disciplines,” she shares in a recent interview with FIS. “After that, we had a training camp in Saas Fee, but the bad weather conditions allowed us to train only once. And finally, I suffered an undisplaced tibial fracture in a crash right before the start of the season, which resulted in an extensive rehabilitation period. All this rendered an optimal preparation for the season impossible.”
Before all the pain and injuries, the German had high expectations after finishing the 2015-16 season in third place overall. The constant interruptions in her preparation prevented her from finding her rhythm in the subsequent winter.
“I didn’t have the flow in my preparation, so I wasn’t able to bring a good rhythm into the season. I was taken to my limit over and over again during the winter. The first races were especially difficult for me, but then I raised the level significantly in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and at the World Championships. I had good speed and good splits there, but the consistency was not there as the rhythm didn’t work from the summer preparation on. In addition to that, the hundredths were not always on my side especially with fourth-place finishes in Cortina, St. Moritz, and Aspen.”
Despite those frustrating hundredths that eluded her, Rebensburg eked out promising results in Austria and Germany.
“It was a great feeling to be on the podium in Semmering and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. A medal at the World Championships would also have been a highlight, but I didn’t have the chance to grab one this season.”
The upcoming 2017-18 winter will provide another opportunity for her to claim a medal at a major event. As an Olympic gold medalist in Vancouver 2010, the German knows she has the potential to podium at PyeongChang 2018.
“Of course, I want to be in the pole position. This is what my sport is about,” she says. “My goal is always to race for a medal.”
The test event in Jeongseon, South Korea, on the Olympic speed track was a great experience for her. In order to fully prepare for what lies ahead, she has an intensive summer of training in the works – “a clear and very demanding plan” as she puts it.
As one of the only female German speed athletes, she has joined forces with other teams in order to get the training she needs both in season and also in the preparation period.
“I had the chance to train in Norway after the season. We have a very good relationship with the Scandinavian coaches and athletes, so I used the opportunity to have some more days of ski training. For me, it’s always good to compare myself to international top athletes and get to know different people and different mindsets,” she notes.
Even with the lure of Olympic glory ahead, Rebensburg could retire immediately and still boast an outstanding career record. With 12 years of World Cup racing under her belt, she has 13 World Cup victories, two World Cup giant slalom globes and two Olympic medals. Despite that level of success in her back pocket, she wants more.
“I try to be better every day, to surpass myself, push the limits and bring out even more,” she explains. “This is my motivation. What I like since I was a kid is the competition. Sometimes, I had to convince my parents to allow me to compete. Of course, what I like is also the surroundings, the mountains and the snow. There is nothing more beautiful than standing on a mountain. Doesn’t matter if it is at home, in Canada, or in Argentina. To experience this immenseness, that’s freedom to me.”