With her fighting spirit and her positive attitude, Hanna Schnarf is an essential part of the Italian “Downhill Lions.” Our friends at FIS met with her to talk about her season and her thoughts about the future.
FIS: This season, you were able to celebrate your second World Cup podium of your career: a second place in the super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo. How were you feeling before the race, did you realize that you would achieve something big?
HS: Not really, it was a “normal” race day, I was nervous as always. I had bib number 1, which is not always easy, but I chose the right line and my instinct said it was the best one so I pushed hard.
Was it even more emotional to claim this podium in front of your home crowd?
Yes it was. All my family, my husband and a lot of friends were there to celebrate with me. My thoughts were also with my deceased dad, so yes it was a very special, emotional day.
Cortina is also the host of the World Championships in three years. Is this in your head?
No, I will be there for sure, but probably not as racer anymore!
Generally speaking, you have been quite unlucky at big events so far. You finished 4th only 0.09 seconds off the podium at the Olympics in Vancouver, had to sit out your home Olympics in Torino, missed the 2013 Schladming World Championships, got injured shortly before the World Champs in St. Moritz in 2017 and missed the podium by 0.05 seconds in PyeongChang 2018. Are there any regrets about your 5th place in the super-G in PyeongChang?
I was leading until the last intermediate time so of course, as a competitive athlete, I was disappointed, angry, and sad. I was so close but missed the opportunity. But I have no regrets. It was good skiing and one of my best performances this winter, right on point for the Olympics.
What does it take to lay down your best performance on the day?
It needs a good preparation, good people around you, a lot of determination but also serenity. You need to be quiet and certain that you did everything you could for this event. Of course it’s hard to put in practice and not so easy to calculate. Work. Dream. Do.
Are big events an additional motivation for your or does it just put more pressure on your season?
For sure it is a motivation. I always try to think step by step, race by race, but my mind is also focused on the big goal.
What are you anticipating the most about Are 2019?
I expect a great event. I like Are very much.
As in 2010 after a similar season, you were rewarded with the title of “Sudtirolean Sportsperson of the Year” again in 2018. How much of an honor was it to get this prize for the second time?
It was a great honor. We have a lot of outstanding athletes from different sports in Sudtirol. I did not expect to win this title again. I was really surprised and I am very thankful that so many people from my region stand behind me and support me.
Last summer you got married to the person who might be your greatest fan and is following you a lot on the World Cup. How important is the support from your husband?
Yes, after 12 years together we got married last summer. Alex’s support is very important for me. He is very patient and accepts my sport-travel life. Especially when I go through hard times, he is always there for me. He gives me balance and has good advice although he didn’t understand much about ski racing before we met. I really found the man of my life.
The retirement of your teammate and good friend Verena Stuffer was very emotional for you. Did it trigger a reflection about your own future?
Of course it made me think about my own future, and it’s always sad when a longtime teammate and friend is quitting after almost half of our lives together on this journey. I probably had more nights in the same room with Verena than with my husband! Especially after the big delusion of my ‘non nomination’ for the Olympic downhill, despite a top result in super-g, I reflected more about my future as a ski racer.
What made you take the decision to continue?
When I thought about it again at the end of the season, I didn’t feel like the time had come to retire and put it all down. I am a fighter and I am still very motivated. I know that I am competitive and I will keep on working to reach new goals. But first of all, and that’s very important in our sport, I still feel healty, in a good physical shape and I love what I am doing.
The Italian speed team is one of the strongest on the World Cup Tour, with seven athletes in the top 30 in downhill. What is your role within the team?
I would say that I am a team player and that my positive way is good for the team spirit. You can grow in a team. We have a strong team, we push each other and there is a very good energy on the team. I like to be in the group but at the same time I do my own thing and need my space from time to time.
When you’re not suffering from an injury, you are a very constant skier, with not less than 40 top 10 placements in the World Cup and very few DNFs. Is a discipline crystal medal or globe a goal of yours?
My goal is to improve my skiing, to consolidate my fastest skiing and to be constantly on top in both disciplines my favorite disciplines downhill and super-G. Then we will see what comes out.
On which discipline would you bet?
At the moment I feel better in super-G, but I would not bet!
Is confidence an important factor in your performance?
Confidence is fundamental for me and consequently for my performance.