German men are trim, women ailing

25.11.2008, Wiesbaden / Tom Klein
Training camp in Muonio/FIN – Neuner stays at home
Copyright IBU


At the moment both, the men and the women squads of Germany are practicing in Finland's Muonio before heading directly to the season opener in Östersund (Sweden). Whereas all is well amongst the men, almost all of the women are currently more more less ailing.

Whereas men's coach Frank Ullrich quite literally had all of his seven World Cup athletes on board of the plane to Finland (only Daniel Graf had to take it easy for a while due to a cold), one of the seats reserved for the women remained vacant: Magdalena Neuner had to waive her trip North due to an infection. “It's starting to get on my nerves”, said Neuner, who already had to cope with losing seven weeks of practice time during the summer.

Neuner stays at home

Neuner is practicing at home and will not join the team in Muonio. Despite losing even more preparation time, the overall World Cup winner of the 2007/2008 season remains confident: “My summer was a bit unfortunate but there were also times when I did manage to train really well.”

Hitzer in old boots

The second youngster in the team is also causing coach Uwe Müssiggang some concern: Kathrin Hitzer still has to deal with severe problems with her ankle. The 22-year-old was able to ski classic style, jog and cycle, but a painful infection in her ankle left her unable to skate. The solution to the problem came in the shape of an old boot of her teammate Kati Wilhelm. With it, Hitzer is finally able to train without much pain.

Different expectations

Even though not all of his “girls” are in top shape at the moment, the guideline for coach Muessiggang is still: ”One has to get through”, meaning one of his proteges has to make it onto the podium any given day of the new season. In Östersund his hopes will be on Kati Wilhelm, who was the strongest in some recent practice races.

After some quarrels during the summer, the men will be trying to reestablish themselves among the World Cup elite. With the retirements of veterans Ricco Groß and Sven Fischer, coach Frank Ullrich had to restructure the team before the last season.