That's life: we have asked ski crosser Daniel Bohnacker for an interview as part of the contract extension for our partnership. The athlete talks not only about the past season, but also about reconciling top-class sport with everyday life. He also gives us an insight into the background and organisation for the Ski Cross Tour and the Olympics. He was injured last week off-piste during training - and regrettably will be out of action for around 6 weeks ... We wish him the very best of luck and hope that he makes a good and quick recovery - and are pleased to interview him here not despite, but because of that:
How did you actually get into ski cross?
Daniel Bohnacker: It was more or less an accident. At some point I found Alpine skiing a little dull and also stagnant in terms of performance. Then I simply gave ski cross a go. I was thrilled with this new discipline. I also wasn't too bad. So one thing led to another and ultimately everything happened relatively quickly.
Do you have enough time for hobbies alongside your sport?
Daniel Bohnacker: Yes - sport does pretty well take over. But there is still time, now and then, to do things with friends or go to the cinema. Other than that, a lot of what I do is related to sport. I often play golf or go wakeboarding, and do a lot of things that involve exercise and that can also be incorporated into training sometimes.
You have finished your studies now. How did that work alongside sport? And what is the situation with work now?
Daniel Bohnacker: I did a dual-system course. It was a fairly stressful time, because I could hardly defer the exams, we had no typical semester breaks and attendance was compulsory too. Happily, my university is a partner of top sport. My employer at the time gave me enough freedom, for the competitions especially. I really had to prioritise what was important and what wasn't though. I also had to be extremely efficient, because I was having fewer training days than the others back then and had to make the best possible use of them. It was the same for the theoretical phases at the university. As a soldier-athlete with the German army I am now free for training and competitions for the entire year. That is perfect.
What does your calendar look like for the year?
Daniel Bohnacker: The season runs to the end of March, then I have a couple of weeks with material tests, then one jump test or another, depending on how the snow is looking, because you can still do it on natural snow at that point. In autumn everything has to be on the glacier or machine-made snow, as you can never rely on the conditions. After that, there's a break of three to four weeks, before fitness training gets going by mid-May at the latest. From mid-July we are back on the snow regularly - until the season starts.
Is there a race that has really appealed to you or a place where the atmosphere is better?
Daniel Bohnacker: The atmosphere and the mood is best at races in Germany and Austria. That makes it a real pleasure to race. Aside from that - every course is different. I have no favourite races; I haven't noticed a trend, where things always go well or badly. It might be that things didn't go well in one place the year before and suddenly you're successful there. That's why: at home in Germany in front of lots of your own fans is obviously the best!
Is there a race that you'll always remember?
Daniel Bohnacker: Yes, there are a few. Of course, the first World Cup race that I won, in L'Alpe d'Huez in France. You never forget something like that. Then obviously the home races at Tegernsee, which were amazing, or special things like the X Games in Aspen.
Does that mean your Olympics experience is not such a big deal to you?
Daniel Bohnacker: The Olympics is a bit of a saga. It was extremely bitter in Sochi because the racing didn't work at all. Of course you're going to remember that, but not very positively because it was bad in sporting terms and the conditions were rather odd. It simply didn't come together. Regardless, the Olympics remains a special event, because the process and organisation is completely different, much more restricted with all the rules. It was really interesting to experience that. Okay, so it is a fact that your course is a bit tougher than for normal Alpine sport.
How is the competitive behaviour away from the slopes? Do the athletes get on well?
Daniel Bohnacker: On the slopes it's a tough battle, head-to-head, unlike the Alpine discipline - we are direct opponents. We actually all get on really well away from the slopes. Of course there are differences of opinion sometimes, especially straight after one duel or another. That all gets cleared up afterwards and everything is forgotten very quickly. The tough rivalry stays on the course.
What are your goals for the new season?
Daniel Bohnacker: Actually my goals are still the same. Clearly I would like to compete for medals at the World Cup and do really well in the World Cup as a whole, just winning more races this year too. For a variety of reasons I haven't always achieved the results that might have been expected given my performance level. That needs to stop now and I need to be more consistent. We'll see whether that works out.
What do you hope for and what does the partnership with PistenBully mean to you?
Daniel Bohnacker: Naturally, for me it's important to have such partners. On the one hand, for me personally the crucial financial support is there, because we really have fairly high costs. Then there's the fact that both we athletes in training and the association benefit very greatly from PistenBully. We have some machines of our own for rebuilding the course, which would be completely infeasible without a PistenBully. We wouldn't be able to train at all otherwise. This allows us to work much more flexibly than if we had to wait for an available vehicle from the ski resort. And we don't have just any machine, but usually a ParkPro, which is also able to build the relevant elements exactly as we need them.