Three years ago the European Championships were in Wörgl, Austria. At that time the Austrian team was not very big, only Vanessa Herzog won medals then. This year Vanessa is not at the Euros, she’s already training for the ice season. The junior ladies Anna Petutschnigg, Laura Nagiller and Kathi Thien were at the Flanders Grand Prix and we talked to all of them.
Pictures: Hidde Muije
At the start of the interview in German it turns out that Laura doesn’t speak German, but she can understand it “I speak German with my grandparents. But I was in an international school where I learned mostly English and lost the German.”
Laura has two nationalities, her dad is German and her mom is Portugese. She grew up in Portugal and skated the European Championship for Portugal before. Then she waited three years to go to Austrian Team, because when you change nationalities you cannot participate in international tournaments for three years.
Why did you change countries? “I had a chance to make the team in Portugal, but I choose to skate for Austria, because the opportunities that they are giving me here are way better. I decided that Austria was a better option.”
Where do you train? “I train in Portugal with my team in Lagoa. I’m also in a club in Austria and sometimes I go there, but they (the Austrian team) really allow me to do my life in Portugal.”
You were at Worlds also, how was that? “It was a different experience because it was my first Worlds and I didn’t have real goals. But I think it was a great experience, it was good.”
How did the Flanders Grand Prix go? “I was a bit sick on Saturday, the road race is not my race, so I hope the elimination race goes well and in the 300 meter time trial I did my personal best (29.669) so I’m kinda happy.” Laura finished 25th in the overall, with a 13th place in the elimination race.
And then Euros next week… “Yeah, I’m really excited, I love the track, although this weekend wasn’t the best one, I hope the Euros are gonna be better.”
Do you have goals for the Euros? “Yeah, last year I managed to do 10th in the points race on the track, I like the track more than the road. And I’m hoping to do a good elimination race, it’s my favorite one. I also want to go to the finals in the relay. I love relay.”
You don’t get to train for the relay a lot with Anna and Kathi… “We had a good experience at Worlds, we weren’t disqualified, like last year in the Euros. We really trained for the relay while we were at Worlds.”
Kathi lives in Graz, in Styria, there is no track there. How did you start skating? “First I was on ice, I played icehockey and my coach there told me there was an inline club and then I started to ttpractice there. We train on a parking lot, but we try to make the best of it.”
Does that mean your skating on the road is better than on the track? “It is, because I’m not training on a track, so it’s kind of hard.”
You were also at Worlds, how did that go? “It was my first Worlds, so I’m kinda proud just to have been there. We tried to qualify for the Youth Olympics, but it was a lot of pressure because of school so it was hard to bring it up to that level. I’m satisfied with my results.”
This weekend you raced in the Grand Prix? “Yeah, it was ok, I raced the ones that I wanted. The 1000 meter and later today the elimination. So I hope it goes well.” Kathi finished 23rd in the overall and took an 8th place in the elimination race.
What are your goals for Euros? “I will try to make my best of it, top 10 I hope. I will race 1000 meter, 500 meter and the relay.”
There’s not a lot of skaters in Austria…”No, sadly, but there are cadets this weekend from the club in Wörgl. It has advantages and disadvantages. It is easier to get in the national team, but you still have to qualify. There are more eyes on you than you think.”
You live close to Carithia where Vanessa lives, do you ever train with her? “Yes, sometimes I’m training with her. I’m really proud to train with her, I can learn a lot from her about technic and stuff.”
Do you skate on ice as well? Laura: “I never did!”
Kathi: “I’m going on ice this year, I’m trying to get to Heerenveen to train there. I was at the Summer Camp after worlds with Bram Smallebroek. It was a cool group of skaters, it was fun and we learned a lot. Elma de Vries was one of our coaches.
Kathi was in the race on the Saturday, her first race on ice. Was it difficult to get the start right? “The first time it was the hardest one and I thought I could never do that one, after each start it got better.”
Did Anna go to the Summer Camp as well? “No, but she lived in Calgary for a while to skate.”
Anna is a member of SC Latella Wörgl and lives close to the track. At the Flanders Grand Prix we didn’t have a chance to talk to her, so this interview took place at the Euros.
We waited for her after the elimination race on the track on Saturday night. How was the race? “It was pretty good, I did a couple mistakes that I should have learned from earlier races. But that’s what racing is for, to improving and get to know the race.”
What kind of mistakes do you mean then? “Just mistakes that you shouldn’t do when you’re more of a racer, like seeing a gap and not going in there, letting people cut in front of you, fighting too much.”
You were in the final with Laura and Kathi, could you skate together in the race? “Yeah, it was really helpfull to have more teammates, it’s way easier when you’re not alone.”
Was there a plan for this race? “Before every race we talk about the plan with the coach, we go over the race and try to reach some goals. Today we raced for me.” Anna was 14th.
How did the other races go? “I got 10th yesterday in the points race. I prefer points over elimination. I made it to the 1/4 final in the 500 meter, that’s pretty nice because I’m a long distance racer.”
What other races are you gonna do? “I will race the 1000 meter and the relay and I’m really excited about the relay.”
You live in Wörgl close to the track, does that help? “It is very helpfull, of course there are different tracks so you always need to get used to diffrent tracks. But it’s a huge advantage if you have a track where you can practise every day.”
Results so far
Laura beat her best time in the 300 meter again, 29.64
Anna was 10th in the points-elimination race, so she wasn’t eliminated and made it to the ‘final’. In the 500 meter she got 13th place.
Another great result for Anna was the 8th place in the 1000 meter final.
In the teamsprint the ladies didn’t make it to the final and finished 5th. The relay for the junior ladies didn’t have heats, so Anna, Kathi and Laura were in the final. They were up against Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands and finished 5th.