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Biathlon World Cup – Janina Hettich-Walz and her “moment for eternity”

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Biathlon World Cup – Janina Hettich-Walz and her “moment for eternity”


As of: February 16, 2024 3:50 p.m

Janina Hettich-Walz is still “stunned” about her silver medal at the Biathlon World Cup. In the winter sports podcast she also talks about the methods her mental trainer uses to help.

After a disappointing first week at the Bitahlon World Championships in Nove Mesto, Janina Hettich-Walz brought relief to the German team: In the individual, she won the long-awaited first medal with a flawless shooting performance.

Hettich-Walz: “I’m still the same”

The silver medalist over the 15 kilometers hasn’t really realized her triumph yet: “I still find it incomprehensible. Vice world champion – that’s something crazy,” she reveals in the Sportschau winter sports podcast, “but I’m still “The same as Tuesday morning”.

At the finish, she was “stunned that I managed it. I knew I could do it, but I didn’t dare dream about it.” And in Nove Mesto, of all places, “where I was never particularly good. But perhaps it was an advantage that I went into the race without great expectations,” said the Black Forest native.

Hettich-Walz from the shadow of the stars into the spotlight

Of all people, Hettich-Walz, who was always in the shadow of stars like Franziska Preuß or, earlier, Denise Herrmann-Wick, suddenly moved into the spotlight. Second place in Nove Mesto was her first individual podium finish in her career; so far she has only managed three places in the top six. For her, February 13, 2024 is “a moment for eternity.” During the race, she pushed aside thoughts of a medal. “In the World Cup I thought too often and missed a possible podium,” says Hettich-Walz.

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Demotion to IBU Cup “was a relief”

The 27-year-old had to work hard and accept many setbacks to win the silver medal. “The end of the 2022 Olympics was particularly difficult for me to process. But nothing came together.” The Black Forest woman was demoted to the IBU Cup. “Back to the IBU Cup – that was a relief for me: less going on, less media pressure. And at the start I won a race with zero mistakes,” remembers Hettich-Walz.

This was followed by the home European Championships on Arber, where she won silver in the mixed relay and bronze in the individual. “So I thought to myself, it’s okay.” She never lost faith “that I can do it. I emerged from this time stronger.”

Silver thanks to mental trainer

Before the individual race in Nove Mesto, the pressure on the DSV team was quite high after the disappointing first week. “There’s always this sword of Damocles hanging over you – with every race in which Germany doesn’t win a medal, the pressure increases.”

But the team became even closer together and supported each other. “We all relied on our strengths,” said Hettich-Walz. Her mental trainer was particularly helpful to her: “I wrote down the negative thoughts on a piece of paper and tore them up. Then I wrote down the positive ones and memorized them – consciously pushing away the old and bringing out the new,” reveals the 27-year-old.

And “in the morning I thought it would be nice if Germany won a medal today. The fact that it was me is of course crazy.” After winning the precious metal, the great pressure in the team was gone.

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Now Hettich-Walz is looking at the last two races in Nove Mesto. On Saturday she starts together with Franziska Preuß, Selina Grotian and Vanessa Voigt. On Sunday she will take part in a World Cup mass start for the first time. “I would be very happy with a top ten placement. If it goes towards the top six, it would of course be outstanding again,” hopes Janina Hettich-Walz.

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