Two years ago, Andreas Sander surprisingly won World Championship silver in the downhill. In Courchevel, the 33-year-old is just an outsider. In an interview, he reveals why he is still optimistic.
sports show: Andreas Sander, what contact have you had with Courchevel and the World Championship courses? It’s not a classic World Cup location.
Andrew Sander: Last year in March the World Cup finals were there. Unfortunately, I was only qualified for the Super-G. That means I haven’t ridden the downhill section yet, but the Super-G took place on part of the downhill section, so I could already see the course.
sports show: Do you like the route or how would you rate it?
Sanders: The site could suit me. But with the Super-G, it always depends on the course setting. As for the downhill course, it doesn’t really compare to any other in the World Cup. It’s a very interesting, very demanding descent with a ride time of just under two minutes, and the last 30 seconds are particularly twisting. In other words, they cost a lot of strength again. There are some very nice jumps at the top. What I’m hoping for is that it’s colder so that with every starting number you still have a chance to go up front.
sports show: What would be the ideal route for you?
Sanders: I like it even in the Super-G, even if there are two or three places where you have to drive tactically and where it may only become clear after a few runners how to drive them. But then again, I like it when there are a few corners where you can pick up speed. What I’ve learned in recent years is that I no longer ask myself whether a slope suits me or not. It is what it is and just make the best of it.
sports show: Of course, self-confidence is also important. You bring a lot with you now after the most recent fourth place in Cortina.
Sanders: That’s correct. Not so much the placement, but the fact that I managed the run well from top to bottom. The basic speed was also right, even in Kitzbühel. In that respect I was satisfied. In the last three or four weeks I’ve also worked on a few technical details, which has been really good. It’s good that it worked out straight away in Cortina. But every race starts all over again. The form on the day is also decisive, because the field has moved closer together. It’s good to see that even the dominant drivers make mistakes from time to time, and a World Championship has its own rules anyway.
sports show: When you hear experts and coaches, everyone only talks about Lena Dürr and Linus Straßer when it comes to chances of a top place at the World Cup. What was the reason that you weren’t that far up the field this year and what still encourages France?
Sanders: You can’t predict that. I can only speak for myself: I was fifth in the first Super G, I was fourth now, and I’m seventh in the Super G World Cup ranking – that’s not really dramatic. I always had that basic speed on the downhill, which I always want to have. Okay, Beaver Creek and Val Gardena were also unfortunate races in terms of external conditions. With a bit more luck I could have had a lot more top 15 finishes. It’s an outdoor sport, that’s where that happens. I think I’m self-critical enough to see that I still need to improve my driving skills here and there. But it wasn’t that bad. A few little things certainly didn’t add up, but we tried to change that. We’re on the right track there. I hope to show that at the Worlds and in the remaining races.
It is quite normal that Lena Dürr and Linus Straßer are named after their World Cup victory after their very consistent season so far. But, it must also be said that some drivers have had an amazing run this winter. But it is very, very narrow behind them.
sports show: You allude to Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Marco Odermatt. The question of your top favorites for gold in the downhill and in the Super G is therefore superfluous …
Sanders: I meant that, yes. I’m still optimistic that I can beat them on a day X. I already have the confidence. But you just have to say that both of them are exceptional athletes. But we can always ride behind them.
sports show: You said it yourself: a World Cup always has its own rules. How good is it when you know that you already have a World Cup medal hanging in your closet (World Cup silver in the downhill 2021, ed.)? Is it easier to go about it?
Sanders: It can be, I hope so. That actually inspired me and didn’t bother me at all, because it was a career goal for me to win a World Cup medal at some point. I fulfilled a dream and can always look back on it. And so I can now easily drive off and surprise again. But again: a lot has to come together to compete for medals. What also gives confidence is that I have often performed well at the peak of the season.
sports show: You are said to be a very self-critical driver. Do you sometimes get in your own way?
Sanders: If I wasn’t like this, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Everyone has their own character traits, and that’s certainly one of mine. But I don’t think it’s too much. I could imagine that it comes from people who don’t really know me and who can’t really know. I will basically keep my style.