Ski racer Lena Dürr doesn't know why her journey to the top took so long. "If I knew, I would have done it much earlier. I had to accept a few detours to end up here," said Germany's great hope for a medal at the Alpine World Championships in France. With "here" Dürr means the absolute top of the world.
At the age of 31, the tech specialist is in the best shape of her life. The times when the German bobbed around for 20th place or had to tremble for a place in the squad are over. Her collection of experiences, "positive and negative", made her the athlete of today, said Dürr. At the end of January she celebrated her first World Cup victory in the slalom in the Czech town of Spindlermühle.
When the best slalom skiers in the world compete for medals in Méribel this Saturday (10:00 a.m. / ARD and Eurosport), Dürr will join the gold candidates. A status that the athlete from SV Germering has continuously worked for.
World Cup success gives Dürr self-confidence
"I'm happy that the chance is there," said the Upper Bavarian: "It's a better feeling. I traveled to a World Cup in a completely different way." Dürr's role has changed. She is now one of the hunted behind high-flyer Mikaela Shiffrin from the USA.
The fact that the first World Cup victory in slalom came so shortly before a major event should be both a blessing and a curse for Dürr. Of course, success gives you self-confidence, but it also increases your expectations - your own and those of those around you.
But the slalom expert doesn't want to know anything about pressure. "No, the victory gave me lightness," assured the German. Only she knows whether Dürr is so cool on the inside.
When world champion Alexander Schmid brought the German Ski Association (DSV) the first medal at this World Cup on Wednesday, Dürr was shakily behind the gang. On Saturday she wants to be the one who gives her teammates a nerve-wracking finale with a happy ending.
"It feels like starting from zero for me on Saturday. It's obviously great for the team that Alex has won gold. But that doesn't make it any easier for me," said the 31-year-old.