Dominik Windisch: A New Camper Van, High Hopes for Pyeongchang
Dominik Windisch is living proof that perseverance and hard work pay off in biathlon. Going into the 2013-14 Olympic season, his biggest claim to fame was running the second leg for Italy’s winning relay team at Oberhof in January 2012. Then, on February 19, 2014, he and teammates Karin Oberhofer, Dorothea Wierer and Lukas Hofer teamed up to win the Olympic Mixed Relay Bronze medal at the Sochi OWG, Italy’s second-ever Olympic relay medal. Since then, his career has built steadily with an individual World Cup victory in 2016, two podiums last season leading to a personal best 14th in the World Cup Total Score.
“My Dream” Camper Van; Relax by the Sea
A few weeks ago, with another training camp under his belt, the 27-year-old was looking forward to a little mid-summer break after a show competition in Forni Avoltri. The plan was simple: seaside camping with friends in Croatia. It would be especially memorable, because Windisch had just become the proud owner of a brand-new camper van, picked up from sponsors the previous day; one of the perks that his ever-increasing biathlon success has brought. Although in his possession for less than a day, rollerskis, poles, rifle and other training gear partially filled the white van emblazoned with his likeness and name. Windisch was a little like a small child with a new toy. “This has always been one of my dreams; perfect for some road trips and good for training. I am really excited to try it out this week; a few days at the sea to rest, recover, and forget about biathlon."
Summer Training with a Hard Landing
Still, the sport and the upcoming Olympic Winter Games are never far away. A confident Windisch feels good about his preparation and that of his teammates. “Summer training has been good up until now; of course I have had a few small difficulties, but nothing big. Actually, my neck is a bit sore after flying with Luki last week (tandem paragliding). We had a hard, but safe landing and my neck got jarred.”
Full of Hope
That 2014 Olympic medal may have been a surprise, but now he relishes the chance to get on that podium again. “That is my hope and objective, but I am just continuing to work the same as in the seasons since Sochi. I know that my training has been working; concentrating on shooting because that remains my weakness. I hope we can do well as a team. We have a good men’s relay (5th in the 2017 IBU WCH) with some young guys who are getting better and better each year. We are full of hope!”
Pressure; Team Leader Doro
Of course with that hope comes some pressure to perform, “Not much pressure from the federation and family, but the press for sure. Still this is good for us in Italian biathlon. The most pressure is on Dorothea (Wierer) because she is the best. She is our team leader and we try to copy her. I am happy to be on the team with her, because she is a strong character and you need someone like this. She helps to keep it light and funny; we have a few inter-team competitions which makes a perfect mix for training.”
“One or Two Mistakes and Dreams are Gone”
Although the focus for the Windisch and his Italian teammates, like all teams is Pyeongchang; it remains just part of the season schedule. They are not trying to peak for just one two-week period. “We tried to peak like this before, but it is not for me. Most years, I try to have a good steady shape all season; trying for one peak just does not work. I train for the whole World Cup season because that is important. The Olympics have just six competitions and it is very hard to prepare for just those six competitions. If you make one or two mistakes, your dreams are gone. I train for the whole World Cup. That is really the best training. If you start well, then you are confident and you go to the Olympics with a good feeling and that confidence.”
Winning a Medal Not Easy
The veteran of six World Cup season knows that winning an Olympic medal is more than just talent and skill. “The top 40 or so in the World Cup are all able to win a race. Everyone can shoot clean and also miss some shots. You have to be a little bit lucky; it has to be a perfect day and maybe someone else makes some mistakes. It is not easy to win (a medal).”