Something is different this winter, little things that often make a big difference. Lena Dürr is sneaking up the slope even more than dashing through the slalom gates; not as powerful as a Petra Vlhova, the second on Tuesday evening in Schladming, with which the Slovak won the overall slalom ranking early. Not as technically posh as a Mikaela Shiffrin, who won her 73rd World Cup in Schladming, her 47th (!) Alone in the slalom – no one has ever won a discipline in the alpine more often.
Lena Dürr, you could sometimes push her forward on Tuesday evening – but since this winter at the latest, something has changed. It may seem creeping, but Dürr drives more upright, she makes herself big instead of small, so she can press the ski edges shorter and more forcefully into the ice, release them faster, rush towards their destination faster. That is more of the art of skiing: making the steep slopes look as if they are easy to ski.
The women’s slalom on Tuesday evening in Schladming, which had been withdrawn from Flachau at short notice due to the high corona incidence, looked a bit bleak at times, without any spectators – you almost wished for a few of the beer-loving guests back, who otherwise in Schladming by the thousands Clog the village. On the other hand, the race was all the more grippy and the result all the more sparkling for the German Ski Association (DSV): Lena Dürr was once again admitted to the parade of the best three, alongside Shiffrin and Vlhova, the industry leaders. In its special discipline, Dürr had not accumulated three third places, as in this winter, in any previous year.
And so the 30-year-old hung up the events a little higher than usual. She thought “immediately of dad”, Peter Dürr, who climbed the podium in the World Cup for the only time on the Planai: third, in 1988 in the Departure. On the other hand, said Dürr, now in a rather tear-soaked voice, “my family has always been there in recent years, no matter how bad things went”. But: That was once upon a time, the bad times.
Dürr lost her management status three years ago – a time that shaped her very much
In order to understand a high, you often have to climb down again, at Dürr this was mainly a phase almost three years ago. At that time she often “muddled around”, remembered Jürgen Graller, her head coach, in Schladming. Sometimes she snuck among the top 15, sometimes not, the gap to the best was often massive. They have been waiting in the association for years for Dürr to rush into the elite, as briskly as it had ridden in the first few years; In 2013 she won a parallel World Cup in Moscow. Well, after many detours that Dürr had already taken, the coaches decided that the athlete could use a new stimulus; a stimulus that was accompanied by painful cuts: Dürr lost her management status for half a year.
She hadn’t quite understood the decision, she’d often said recently – why should she? still a detour now lead to your goal faster? Today both the athlete and the supervisor say that the time “shaped” them very much, Graller means that in a positive sense.
Back then, Lena Dürr had to look for her own training group, which she found at the World Racing Academy in South Tyrol. Many athletes from smaller and sometimes larger nations train there who cannot or do not want to fall back on the resources of larger associations. Dürr also had to prepare her skis himself, which a service man had previously done. At the time, she saw a lot of new things, often trained with men, exchanged views directly with her ski outfitter – a lot of knowledge that she brought in when she rejoined the team at the start of the season in Sölden, with all the privileges. “Certain things are simply no longer a matter of course,” observed Graller, her head coach. It probably didn’t hurt that Georg Harzl, a trainer, took over the technology division shortly afterwards, who joined the DSV with an open mind – and met an athlete there who knew even better what was good for her and what was not.
Last winter had ended on an encouraging note, with a few internships among the top five. Before the season, Dürr changed the fitness training again to strengthen the liveliness and also to keep the balance on the steep slope. And if she did, as recently in Zagreb and Lienz, she doesn’t drive herself crazy. “She wasn’t physically fit,” said Graller, but don’t worry: “You can be sick without having Corona.” In Kranjska Gora Dürr finished fourth again, and in Schladming, where she rode the long steep slope (which they had previously always reserved for men) just as “disrespectfully” as Graller had wished for, short swing, upright posture. “It’s just cool, it’s fun, it’s easy skiing,” said Dürr. Even on a deep black slope.
Third place in the last slalom before the Winter Games, of course Dürr knew what that meant. At first she was hesitant, no, no, she said, she doesn’t even think about medals at the moment. But of course, she added, the main prizes are now “at least within reach”. Getting small when it gets steep and difficult is a thing of the past for now.