BW: After so much success with Florian (Steirer), is it still quite exciting to have Sverre (Roeiseland) and some new ideas this season?
DH: It was hard, but the main goal is 2026 and for the young girls, they maybe want to have some new input. When you calculate how successful last year was, you realise that you must work again. The group is so small at the top and the Norwegians are the best in the sport at this time. We want to challenge them and get the (Nations) Cup back. As for myself, I came from cross-country skiing and always looked up to Norway’s philosophy and training. I am looking forward to working again with a Norwegian guy… It will be interesting to learn about the Norwegian shooting philosophy. I know a lot about the physical things, but with shooting there may be another way. The main goal is still to hit the targets!
I still miss Florian when I realize what we did together, but that success is forever in my heart and mind and also for him. He is a really good coach and will bring some other girls to big success.
Still, our team is really good now; Kristian (Mehringer) knows us well. He is in really good shape, can challenge and follow us in training. It is really good when the coaches can see things not just on the range. It will be really interesting with these two coaches. We will have a camp in Lillehammer and Marte will join us sometimes. That is super cool. To see what she does in the workouts and maybe talk about some things in training and when she comes here, we can show her Ruhpolding… She was the best last year and at the Antholz (World Championships) and probably could have won the World Cup (Total Score) the last three years with her level…
It is still a big family. We can support each other and the level goes higher for everyone.
BW: Could you challenge for the World Cup Total Score this year?
DH: The Total Score is not the main goal this year when we have the home World Champs.
BW: Although the World Championships are your focus, are you still thinking about getting better on the shooting range?
DH: The first goal is a higher percentage. I am not so slow in prone but the first step is hitting the targets. Then when you feel safe, go faster. Hitting the targets gives you self-confidence. In standing, I don’t lose too many seconds, but you want to shoot zero. You always want to compete and be the best in every part; sometimes that is a challenge, to stay calm, focus on the targets and not the time; try to find a balance between the two.
BW: Are you still working on your ski speed although it returned last season?
DH: I had a really tough time for two years, maybe overtrained, but I wanted to try for the Total Score. I knew it was a risk but wanted to try it. Sometimes you fail and learn from your own mistakes. Just do not do it a second time! Last year was much better; the last trimester I was back to the old Denise… When you finally get back to your old self, you realize it was not that easy. Every year it is a process to get back into that good place.
I am a workaholic. Sometimes the biggest pressure comes from myself and I need to back off… You must always listen to your body, especially when you are a bit older. You need more time to recover. It is important to have a fresh mind and body when the season starts. Every year is a challenge, but fun to have that challenge!
BW: What do you think about more women changing from cross-country to biathlon?
DH: It is interesting to see other girls like Anamarija Lampič changing to biathlon. Being on the podium with Stina (Nilsson) was a big day for me, winning a sprint after a long time and being on her first podium after we both came to biathlon the same way…I have known her for many years and when the competition is on, she is a big fighter. She brought the same focus and work ethic to biathlon that made her the best in cross-country.
BW: If you had a choice, would it be running, roller skiing or cycling?
DH: I love running, I am not a thin girl that is super-fast, but I like running here in the mountains. Cycling is not my favourite but the good thing is that you can go to the next coffee shop, but I like running most because you can go anywhere.
BW: What's the best way to spend a day off?
DH: I enjoy just being here at home with my boyfriend, have a good breakfast, go to the lakes in Ruhpolding and enjoy nature; if I have a week, go to the beach.
BW: What is your favourite indulgence after a hard day of training?
DH: I love to walk to the centre of the village and have some good ice cream, just relaxing instead of doing things in the house.
BW: What motivates you every day?
DH: To improve myself, find new things my body can do. Work on small details, things that you cannot see going better in a week or a month. To improve .01%, you have to work perfectly every day.
BW: How would you describe yourself?
DH: A bit too structured, a workaholic, but I can relax: lay right here with a book, read and sleep. Also, when the house is a bit dirty, I want to clean it up, I like it very clean.
Photos: IBU/ Christian Manzoni, Jerry Kokesh