Rain and mud, the tiredness of three long hours of running training with sticks, but when he gets back to the hotel, Caterina Ganz is smiling. Looking at her, it is clear all the joy she feels in training and doing what she loves most. A pleasure that perhaps a few years ago seemed to have been lost, but which in the last two years the thirty have found again, thanks to the excellent work done with Renato Pasinito whom he feels he owes so much.
After the good results of last season, especially in the sprints, Caterina Ganz is happy to take on this new challenge with Markus Cramer at the helm of the Italian national team, to compete with many hours of training and a different method to see if he can improve and aspire to higher positions in the standings, especially in the distance, his favorite races.
The Fassana delle Fiamme Gialle spoke to us about all this in an interview that she gave us in the Dolomiti Apart & Rooms in Passo di Lavazè, during which we felt all her desire to face this new adventure to the fullest.
Hello Catherine. Meanwhile, the first question is a must: after the elbow injury in your right arm, how are you?
“Now it’s better. A month ago, during a mountain bike workout, I fell and hit my elbow on the ground. Unfortunately, but perhaps in this case I should also say fortunately, I got a compound fracture of the radial capital. It could have been much worse, because if it had been more serious, in case of an operation, things would have taken a long time. Instead, in the bad it went well.
For the rest I believe that an injury is not always just a bad thing, it depends on how you live it. In this case, I accepted the situation, so not being able to use my arms, I thought it best to take advantage of them to train my legs more. I never thought of skipping the meeting in Norway, also because I knew that there I would have the opportunity to be closely followed by our physiotherapist. Also, it was important for me to work with Markus because that way we would have the situation under control.
Even in the Norwegian weeks I managed to train well, I did everything I could, obviously skipping the Blinkfestivalen races. Only a few days ago I started using the other stick again. I take this opportunity to thank all the medical staff, from doctors to physiotherapists, who were fundamental for the recovery ».
So in Norway you trained with just one stick?
«Yes, in the work on roller skis I used only one stick. Especially in the first days in Norway, Markus (Cramer, ed) always advised me to manage myself. My program was identical to the others, but I should have carried it out always based on my feelings and managing myself. I also did some intense work, but unlike the others I ran them.
As I said earlier, not being able to use an arm, I did a nice leg work. Now I feel a little more tired, but that’s okay, I continued to work even when I left the others at Blink. I’m tired, but I keep going, always sending feedback to Markus who knows how I am and can evaluate him ».
Is it very important for you to establish a dialogue with the coach immediately and send him continuous feedback?
«It has always been my intention from the beginning, so much so that as soon as I knew that Markus would train me, I immediately felt him to get to know him, I talked to him a little about myself and exchanged some opinions. We have a common understanding of my goals. Without many words we agree ».
In short, with Cramer you immediately found yourself well.
«Yes, I like his clarity and the simplicity with which he explains things to us, but also his optimism. He always reminds us that the races are in winter and not to worry too much if, in this period, one day we are lower. Markus is always very calm and he passes it on to me, his optimism is important. I think he has already figured out how I am. I always like to know what I do, to understand the motivations behind a certain job. I never miss the opportunity to ask, but because I want to learn, to better understand what I do, to have continuous feedback. I like. I want to use it as much as I can to understand how I am. He answers me, he makes me understand things and sometimes he tells me not to worry, reassuring me if something is wrong that day ».
What advice did he give you to take some new steps? What do you need to work on most carefully?
«One aspect to improve is definitely the work in the gym. In fact, when I got hurt, I was sorry I couldn’t use my upper body. Since I started again, however, I feel stronger than before. He wants me to improve the strength aspect. I too was aware of it, in fact we had already started something with Pax (Renato Pasini, ed) last year. Compared to a year ago, then, we are doing more hours of training, but for me it is not a problem, on the contrary I like to train. As for the rhythms to keep in training, I know myself and I know how to manage myself ».
How did you find Cramer’s change of doing a first week with a lot of volume, while the intensity is done in the third week?
«Surely this was a big change compared to how we used to work. But I must admit that I like these new stimuli, even if at the beginning, on the occasion of the meeting in Torsby, we woke up, worked out, ate and slept, we were quite cooked (laughs, ed). But I like working like this, I feel good about it ».
Compared to the past, a lot of racing has also been introduced.
«Given my last performance on mountain bike, maybe it’s better this way (laughs, referring to the recent injury, ed.). Seriously, running has always been my favorite workout. In the end I have always loved running, it is no coincidence that I started my sports career by running. I am also happy that on the occasion of Sportful, we will do a 3000 meters the day before the uphill race on roller skis ».
How do you live what was your last season? A growing Caterina Ganz has seen herself again.
«I lost a couple of seasons, all of 2020 and a bit of 2021. When I started with Pax, at first I was hesitant, instead he helped me find that desire that had vanished a bit, he re-motivated me because I was very down then. He was fundamental in my ascent and I will always be grateful to him for this. Already in the finale of the 2020-21 season some good things had been seen. Then last season, I felt good already from the summer and also in the autumn things had gone well, in fact I was very confident. I tried to talk a lot with the technical staff, as always asking a thousand questions, but because I wanted to get to know myself more. Today I feel that this has made a difference, thanks to the feedback received, I started to know myself better, to listen to my body. I learned something more about myself, I have more confidence in my feelings. This led me to achieve good results ».
Last year we discovered “Cate sprint”, since you were able to qualify on every occasion. What has changed compared to the past? Are you starting to see yourself more as a sprinter?
«Last year I especially enjoyed playing the qualification, I like to study how to manage myself during that short journey and every time I did quite well. In the end, I didn’t miss one. In the heats, however, I only had the real chance to go to the semifinals once, but unfortunately I fell. In the distance, however, things went less well than I would have liked. It is an aspect on which I want to improve, because if I can choose, I like long races more, I feel like a distance athlete ».
Although you are very motivated by this new adventure with Cramer, you feel how strong the bond with Pasini is still. Do you feel you owe him so much?
«I thank him and he knows it, because we always keep in touch, I have pleasure in telling him how I am, in friendship and trust, then obviously he does not interfere in my work with Markus. I take this opportunity to thank him publicly, I will always carry with me the things I learned thanks to him. Together with Renato, I also want to thank all the staff who followed us, from Valentina Puntel, who was our assistant coach, Davide Perucchini who was the physiotherapist, the trainer Enrico Perri and our psychologist, Manuel. Everyone gave one hundred percent. I am grateful to them for the commitment they put into it ».
Returning to current events. How are you experiencing these long three week gatherings? Is it difficult to be so far away from home?
«This is one of the things I missed in my sporting life, when I stop I can say that I have also had this experience. It is useful to do it, also to have no regrets in the future, knowing that you have really given everything. Obviously, doing long rallies is not synonymous with going fast, but it is something we have never done and I am happy to try it. It’s a little tough, but you can work well and are more focused on training, while when you are at home you can relax more. In gathering, however, it is your job and you can do everything without distractions. I like it very much, I’m happy when I train and I know I’ve done it well, it’s my job ».
Have you already set yourself a goal?
«To improve in the distances. Last year I was there until the middle of the race, then I always had a drop, I was missing something. Well, if thanks to this summer’s work, I had to improve over long distances and lose a little bit in the sprints, I would accept it ».
What do you think of the changes decided by the FIS? Do you like the idea of having men and women compete over the same distances?
“Honestly, it is a choice that I do not understand and do not agree with. In my opinion it will not benefit either women’s or men’s competitions. But that’s how they decided and we will then do the races on the distances that they will show us ».
At the end of the interview, I wanted to tell you that it feels a lot how determined you are to face this new cycle to the maximum.
«This change represents a new challenge for me, in all respects, from the many days away from home to the new training sessions. I have started to know myself better and I am always very curious. I love this job and I really like to train and commit myself. I am curious to try new things to give my best in my work. All this I do to see what I can do, because I know I can still improve and I want to see how far I can go. I will try to make the most of and treasure Markus’ experience as much as possible ».