Knowing that she was in exceptional form, three-time world champion Katharina Althaus simply extended the rest day. On the day before a historic opportunity, the previous gold guarantor decided not to train in the snow-covered Planica in the morning and instead relaxed before the evening qualification at the team hotel in Italy.
With another victory on Wednesday (5.30 p.m. / ARD and Eurosport), Althaus can crown their grandiose World Championships with a feat steeped in history: Four times gold at a World Championships would be a novelty in ski jumping.
World Cup record in sight
The eighth gold medal would even let her draw level with Austria's record champion Thomas Morgenstern. At the age of 26 she is at the peak of her career. Still, she doesn't run out of goals.
Althaus is still missing an Olympic victory in her collection, and she has not yet won the overall World Cup. But something else is probably even more appealing to the native Allgäu woman: Althaus definitely wants to experience the premiere of a women's Four Hills Tournament with jumping in Oberstdorf, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Innsbruck and Bischofshofen. It could probably be as far as 2024/25 at the earliest. Already in the coming winter there should be a foretaste in the two German winter sports strongholds.
Despite the rapidly growing collection of medals, for which Althaus claims to have to make room at home, there is no sign of saturation or decreasing motivation in her days in Slovenia. Ending her career in her mid-20s, as chosen by the two biathlon icons Laura Dahlmeier and Magdalena Neuner, would come as a great surprise to her.
Althaus obviously feels good as the good mood minister in the German ski jumping team. Party-mad, she heats up the medal parties in the team hotel in Italy. "Sang and bawled a bit too much" - that's how Althaus justified her ailing voice after celebrating gold in the mixed team.
Althaus and her ease
Her looseness and balance has been noticeable throughout the season. Althaus revealed before the World Cup that she had become more relaxed and could handle failure better. The chance of the world championship record with four titles does not put them under pressure, Althaus emphasizes this again and again in the picturesque valley of the hills.
"I said after the first gold medal that everything that comes now is an encore. And that's how it is now," she said. With great self-confidence, which is reflected not least in the reduced training program, she tackles her final World Cup mission. "I'm actually always a bit better at the large hill than the small one," she said - after three titles on the smaller facility.
Althaus doesn't just define herself through her sport. She doesn't get bored away from the ski jumps either. Althaus is involved at home, sewed masks during the Corona period. In the large hill individual, she will be supported by friends and fans who will come with a fan bus from her district of Schöllang in Oberstdorf. How closely Althaus feels connected to her region can be heard in every sentence. Unlike before, she speaks at the World Cup with a sometimes broad Allgäu dialect.
In the summer, she is also looking forward to a very special celebration: then the wedding with her fiancé, Patrick Schmid, is supposed to take place. His brother, the Nordic combined athlete Julian Schmid, has already collected silver twice in Planica. It would be "very nice" if he and Althaus brought their medals to the wedding, he said recently. At Althaus it could be four golden ones.