Elena Runggaldier is the Italian top ski jumper. At the age of 18, she has already won bronze and silver medal at the Junior World Championships, and is considered to be one of the most promissing young competitors. During the CoC in Bischofsgruen we managed to do an interview with this interesting young jumper.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: How did you become a ski jumper?
Elena Runggaldier: My adventure with skiing began from cross-country, I started doing it when I was 7. Then five years later my coach asked me if I wanted to try ski jumping and it went well, it felt really good and I liked it from the start. My parents have never had anything against me doing ski jumping. They were happy for me. Now also my younger sister and brother are ski jumpers and my older brother is coaching children, so most of my family is somehow involved in this sport.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: What do you consider as your biggest success so far?
Elena Runggaldier: Surely the Junior World Championships – I was third in Kranj in 2006 and second in Zakopane this year. Continental Cups are not as important for me as the Junior World Championships, but I wa 4th in Baiersbronn in 2006, which is my best result so far.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Did you expect the silver medal at the JWC in Zakopane?
Elena Runggaldier: No, because at the trainings I didn’t jump so well and then over the night something happened and the next day I managed to be second, which was great.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Have you ever regreted becoming a ski jumper?
Elena Runggaldier: No, I never regreted it and never wanted to quit. I’m always happy that I became a ski jumper and I’m happy to do that till now. I also never had any serious injuries.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: How popular is ski jumping in Italy?
Elena Runggaldier: In the north it’s quite popular, but in the south of our country, they don’t care about it at all, they don’t even know what ski jumping is. I think that in Italy male ski jumping is a bit more popular, but it’s not a big difference.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Are you recognized on the streets and asked for autographs?
Elena Runggaldier: Oh no, only sometimes at the competitions, but normally people don’t even know who I am, fortunatelly . I’m really happy about that, because I can have some privacy.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Are you happy with the developement of the ladies ski jumping?
Elena Runggaldier: Yes, especially that next year we are going to have the World Championships, and that is a really great event for us. What I don’t like is that there are still so many competitions on the small hills, particularly now, in the summer. I think that we could jump on at least K-90 hills.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: So, what’s the difference for you between jumping on the big and the small hills?
Elena Runggaldier: Small hills are all about the power at the takeoff. If you don’t have it it’s really difficult to jump far there.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: What is your personal record?
Elena Runggaldier: The biggest hill I have ever jumped is K-125 in Oberstdorf. I set there my personal record, 132 meters, but ofcourse, it’s unnoficial.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Your team is one of the few teams that actually make money from the ski jumping…
Elena Runggaldier: Yes, we have a sponsor, so we get some money for doing ski jumping. At the end of the season the money is divided according to the places we took in the competitions. Ofcourse it’s not enough for buying a house or something and I would not be probably able to make a living from it. But it’s enough…for example for buying new shoes
Ladies-Skijumping.com: What besides ski jumping you could do in the future?
Elena Runggaldier: After I quit ski jumping maybe I can become a coach. I can’t imagine my life without doing something related to sport at all.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Is it difficult to combine doing ski jumping, studying, having private life?
Elena Runggaldier: Ofcourse, it’s difficult, but if you really want to do that, then you can make it. If you don’t care too much about things like having friends or a boyfriend outside the ski jumping then it’s not possible.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: So you like traveling all over Europe to the ski jumping competitions?
Elena Runggaldier: Yes, I like it a lot. Spending a lot of time with my team is not difficult at all, because we are doing great together, we are all good friends. We always have a lot of fun together, sometimes maybe even too much .
Ladies-Skijumping.com: What about the cooperation with your coach?
Elena Runggaldier: He has been coaching us since we started to do ski jumping. I think he is really a very good coach and I’m happy to cooperate with him. Speaking German language with him is not a problem, because we all have it at school, and where we live, German is the second language, even before the Italian.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Do you have good contact with other teams?
Elena Runggaldier: Yes, we hang out the most with the Swiss, I don’t really know why, we just have the most fun with them.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: There is a common opinion that ski jumping is bad for girls, it makes them less feminine. What’s your opinion?
Elena Runggaldier: I think it’s not true. Almost at all disciplines there are separate categories for men and women, and ski jumping is much less dangerous and demanding than for example box or weight lifting. I have no idea why it takes so much time for the ladies ski jumping to become an olympic discipline, it’s a big question for me. It’s definitely not a sport only for men.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: What other sports do you do besides ski jumping?
Elena Runggaldier: I do telemark, cross country, play voleyball, soccer, actually I do many sports. I also like mountain climbing, so my whole life is connected with sport.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: What are your goals for the coming season?
Elena Runggaldier: Ofcourse the World Championships in Liberec and the JWC are the most important, I really want to jump well at those events. I still need to work on my power, there is always something to improve in my ski jumping…
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Thank you very much for the interview and good luck in the coming season!