For Paul Rechberger, skiing has been a way of life ever since he can remember. The Spartan sophomore accomplished something not many Castleton skiers can say they have achieved: a National Championship. Rechberger won the 2018 USCSA Nationals in the slalom in Lake Placid, NY last March. The returning champion hailing from Austria sat down to talk about his life and skiing.
Q: What was it like winning nationals?
A: That feeling is hard to describe to be honest. No one expected it and neither did I. It’s a great feeling when my teammates hugged me and threw me to the ground at the finish. So until now it’s hard to realize what I achieved that day.
Q: How do you train in the offseason?
A: It starts in the fall when we start working out with our conditioning coach, Coach Drew. We have two lifts, one conditioning, and one blitz workout a week. Every workout is about an hour long and prepares me really well for the upcoming season.
Q: Is there anything you do on your own?
A: For the rest of the year, we are free to do what we want. I generally do various workouts with my teammates including running and cycling. I try to explore other sports. Last year I went with the cycling team for different events, along with playing soccer. I love soccer obviously because I am European. When I came back from summer, I got a lot of compliments that my fitness increased a lot, and that’s good to hear.
Q: Is it hard not being able to ski for half the year?
I think it’s probably the hardest during October time when the World Cup races start and you see the pros skiing down the hill and you’re stuck in class itching to get out there.
Q: How is the college season broken down?
A: Our season is made up of college raves regionally. The best teams qualify for regionals and compete for five slots for nationals where we then face all the best teams from around the country.
Q: When did you start skiing for sport?
A: Skiing is our football in Austria; it’s our national sport. I started when I was four years old. Then at age ten I went to ski board school for middle school and then another ski high school. So basically I have been skiing my whole life.
Q: What’s more competitive: skiing in Austria or the U.S.?
A: You can’t really compare it because Austria doesn’t have the college level that the United States has. Back home you’re either a professional, semi-pro, or you retire. There is no chance you can do both your bachelors and a sport at the same time. It’s definitely more competitive back home. It’s much easier to be successful as a college athlete here rather than back home with professionals.
Q: Can you talk about the fact that you serve in the Austrian Military during the summer?
A: It is mandatory for Austrian males to serve in the army for six months. I wanted to do more than that. I did research and training in Austria, so essentially I am in the reserves. I serve every summer as a drill sergeant to continue to climb up the ladder. My goal is to one day be an officer which will take me another three years.
Q: How have you liked the Castleton Ski program so far?
A: I wouldn’t be here for a second season if I didn’t like it. My coaches and teammates are great, especially my captains from last season. We grew together as a team, especially at nationals. The week in Lake Placid was incredible for team bonding. I am really looking forward to working out with those guys again. Whether it’s in a gym or in snow, it’s an awesome atmosphere.
Q: Any piece of advice for young skiers?
A: I quit my career back home in Austria and was pretty down about it. To quit something that I put everything into my entire life was tough. What I’ve learned is even if you have a bad season, don’t give up. There is always a next season or next race. As long as you put the effort and work in, it will pay off. I got more into the mindset that it’s about the joy and fun of loving the sport.