Alpine snowboarder and double gold medallist at Spain's La Molina, Benny Karl talks about big mouths, steep hills and constant cravings...
You've started four times in La Molina and never won – until now. Do statistics like those go through your mind before a race?
I've always liked the racing track, but for some reason I was never able to win here. For the World Cup, a new track was built. At first sight it didn’t appeal to me – which my rivals must also have realised. The track’s profile was very flat, but I had been preparing myself for flats for quite a while. It seems to have paid off.
How does it feel to be the first snowboarder able to defend his medal in parallel-slalom?
It’s a satisfying feeling to know that I have already accomplished so much. After the Olympic Games I had a bit of a lack of motivation. But then the question popped up of what I was going to do with the rest of my career and what goals I’d set for myself. And, at the first sight of snow, the motivation came straight back! I prepared thoroughly for the new season and highlighted the three most important venues for myself – all three of which turned out to be victorious ones: Bad Gastein and now the two World Cup runs here in Spain.
Only Olympic gold is missing now from your collection. Is it still on your agenda?
Olympic gold is still my greatest goal, but I have another three years to wait for that chance. At the moment, it's difficult to say whether we are going to have two categories. And, as always at Olympia, you get exactly one day out of four years to nail your performance. Still, I’m quite good at preparing for Day X.
In your homepage’s guestbook, someone wrote you were the best snowboarder in the world. Do you believe this yourself?
You could say I am the best snowboarder on an Alpine board. The level is high and technically many riders are in my league, but, at the end of the season, the most successful boarder is the one with most victories. The difference between that one and the others is he is level-headed enough to make it to the top...
You announced your gold medal before you even started... do you sometimes think that it might be better not to be big-mouthed?
Well, the success proved my point. I like approaching my goals and I like doing it loudly as well. That’s how I get attention from the media. I find that’s better than winning quietly.
How does the rest of the season look for you?
I’m definitely going for the Overall World Cup, which is like a prize for the most consistent rider throughout the season. My toughest rival in this category is Andi Promegger, but at the moment I’m leading. At the beginning of February, I’ll be in Korea for the next World Cup Race. The track there is steeper than in Spain.
Talking about steep mountains... what would racing down the Streif in Kitzbühel be like for Alpine snowboarders?
Of course, it's possible. I don’t think we’d look too convincing in the “Mausefalle” because we are missing two edges in comparison with the skiers. But going straight down is not that steep (smiles).