Cross-country skiing love

Andrea Grossegger was the first Austrian biathlete, who won a medal at the world championships. She won the bronze medal in 1984 in France, in Chamonix. We met her and had an interview with her, she told us what happend in her life before and after 1984, she told us about a Russian man and which role nursery rhymes played during her training. 

Every beginning is ..

Little did Andrea know, when she was a young girl that she would become one of the most famous biathletes of Austria. When she was ten years old, she tried to get to the cross-country skiing course on skis made out of wood. She manoeouvred herself through fruit trees to the soccer field, from where she could finally reach the cross-country skiing courses. She loved to have fun in the snow - just like her six siblings and every other child who grew up in the 1970s in the mountains. Andrea never lost her passion for having fun in the snow and therefore she joined the Austrian ski cadre with 12 years and then, when she was 14, she went to the skischool in Stams in Tyrol. The Russian man, mentioned above, was her coach. "After the first week of training, I was not able to go down the stairs, I went down backwards. The Russian showed us that the training we had before, was not a real training. We trained with stones in the forests, we ran 25 kilometres and pulled chest expanders, it did not matter which weather." This is what Andrea tells us and she seems like she misses her training with the Russian. Today she knows that without the hard training with the Russian coach, she would have never come so far. "You see that the body can endure a lot more than the head. We learned to fight, to keep going and to be more tolerant towards the weaknesses of others and that's how you brighten your horizon."

And then there was 1984

" ... the first women biathlon world championships. Every association agreed to send at least one woman, " Andrea remindes herself. At this time, she had no experience in shooting. However, the club agreed to send her to Chamonix, France, to start at the world championships. "It was a real surprise for everyone that I won the bronze medal", Andrea says. "All in all it only was my fourth biathlon race."

However, the bronze medal was the only one Andrea ever won, because of two simple reasons. "1985 I gave birth to my first son, two years later I gave birth to my second one - Sven, who now is a biathlet himself. Together with her husband Reinhard, they are personally committed to the HSV (the sports club). She is vice president of the club. Moreover, Andrea owns a sports shop for cross-country skiing, which is located in the cellar of her house, and she now is a trainer herself. She trains children, seniors, beginners and pros. The nordic sports grew more and more popular over the last years, which is very good for Andrea. She believes that cross country skiing is a healthy sport, which is good for the heart and also injuries are not so severe. Furthermore it is cheap and you do not need much time for cross-country skiing. "Nearly every hotel has a cross-country skiing course in front of the door", says Andrea. You are outside in the fresh air and can explore nature, you do not need expensive equipment and you can even cross-country ski at night. And: cross-country skiing is not difficult. "After about an hour you know how it works and what you need to do. That's very motivating."

Athletes in the Nordic Park in Saalfelden-Leogang | © Florian Lechner

About the cross-country skiing courses

Andrea loves to motivate people to try cross-country skiing. Everyone learns differently, but that's no problem for Andrea. "The elderly ones like to cross-country ski up more than down, because they are afraid of the speed and of falling. Whereas children like to cross-country ski down a hill. They do not like the exhaustment of cross-country skiing up," says Andrea. She tries to adapt to each persons skills and tries to explain movements according to movements from everyday life. Every now and then, she likes to sing nursery rhymes. "Cross-country skiing has a lot to do with rhythm." Sometimes she sees the Russian in herself, but in a very moderate version of him. On her website she calls her training "strengh training in the nature". 

Pictures: Florian Lechner