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SPORT - INTERVIEW

Interview with Janine Flock, Three-time European Champion and 2015 Overall World Cup Winner Skeleton Athlete

Make a quick start, decide to right maneuvers at the right moment while sliding on a tiny sled in the ice tunnel, always try to be faster, and reach to the end of the track as soon as possible. This is the way I can define 'Skeleton' in a non-technical format. I had the chance to interview Janine Flock, 2015 Overall World Cup Winner Skeleton Athlete, about her career and the importance of individual sponsorship in winter sports.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

SPORT - INTERVIEW

by Meryem Aksoy

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Some athletes try different sports to decide which sports they want to perform, and then choose the branch that is most suitable for them. However, if there is the higher the level of adrenaline and risk in the sport, these sports requires more passion, and this is a feeling that comes at first sight. Perhaps these sports choose the athletes who may dedicate themselves. Janine Flock is a skeleton athlete passionate about the sport she performs. Of course, loving a sport does not bring success. Long lasting training programs, a successful technical team, and efficient use of the opportunities provided bring success to Janine Flock. Two-time Olympian Janine Flock has won the 2014/2015 Overall World Cup title and three European championships. I had the opportunity to meet with this successful athlete. I talked with Janine Flock about her career and the importance of individual sponsorship in winter sports.

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

Janine, how did you discover the skeleton passion that takes you to the ice channel? What or who inspired you?

The feeling to control the sled head first with high speed on the ice. I love the different rhythms of the tracks and also to work on the sled technique to find ways to get faster on every different part of this sport.

Could you tell us about yourself and your skeleton career?

Short and sweet: I'm down to earth, love my family and friends and I am grateful to be able to carry out my passion so intensely together with great people around me.

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

What does the skeleton mean for you?

It is very special not everybody can do it ;) the greatest thing is to see the happy people beside the track which supporting me and my sport.

What is your secret that keeps you motivated?

It is a gift that I am healthy, I have a reasonably healthy body and I am allowed to practice a profession that I live for. For me, gratitude is the biggest motivation and of course the thought of great competition.

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

How does it feel to reach speeds of up to 145 km / h?

Just incredible but you are never allowed to lose the focus.

What are the basic problems that skeleton athletes have been living during their skeleton career?

There is so much to tell, I tried to be brief... If there is a good working national federation and there are athletes with good results we get in Austria good support from different state funding agencies, so normally the travel and hotels, comp. fees are paid from the federation. We also are able to submit projects for example equipment but you never can say how much support you get. Without my sponsors, I would never come so far in material development. Other countries have big companies, for example, Germans have FES (its a company that develops only special sports equipment) also BMW supports them, the British Team is working with McLaren and they have much more money available. I am working without engineers for 3 years we are building our equipment sled and runners at my head sponsors company Rathgeber Tyrol with great people which loves my sport, (my brother Daniel works as a constructor there and together with Matthias Guggenbergers knowledge and Clemens Berauers steel construction skills - he is a good old friend) so its possible to create great things with little money where other nations put in much more money. When you wanna grow in Austria in this sport you need a lot of passion and own initiative in every little part its difficult to say in numbers.

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

How could skeleton athletes solve these problems? What is the permanent solution?

The most important support for me is the Austrian army, they support athletes by giving them a job (so I am a soldier and representing the army in the public) so we are insured and receive a little monthly salary, that we are able to live our sport and can have a full focus on it. Without the Austrian army, I am not able to do my sport on this high level. My partners or sponsors make it possible for me to develop myself in the different parts of my sport.

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

What is the best way to attract sponsors' attention?

You have to talk a lot with different people, telling your story, ..building your own network. Or the companies are asking and interested in you because they saw something in the media or they know someone around your environment.. and always be like you are!

What contributions do sponsor brands provide skeleton athletes?

It is always different..products, money support or certain functions of the company which helps us with developments...

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

What do sponsors expect and demand from skeleton athletes?

We also make company events where the people can slide by there own in Igls.

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

In your career, when did you first attract sponsors' attention? How did you do this?

It is a process, like everything in the sport... First, you have to invest a lot by yourself, I made, for example, a small project and ask family, friends, and people around them if they want to support me, I was very happy for the little support and put the names from my supporters on my sled... Every success starts small. But it helped me to get good results in the Europa Cup races and junior World Champs... Won my first medal in an EC race and also my first official sponsor supported me and I grow again.. I prefer always little, continuous steps in the right direction. I think some good partnerships have to happen. When the results are better you can do more in the media part get more present but its active work - I am very happy that I have Daniel who is, for example, working on regular press releases or my homepage... This helps me now to get the attention which attracts the attention of the companies.

Janine Flock - Photo by ÖOC Pichler

Janine Flock - Photo by ÖOC Pichler

Could you tell us about your sponsors? What are the brands that you collaborate with?

Rathgeber Tyrol it a steel and mold making company, the synergy is the precision in the development of our equipment. They are producing my sled and runners.

Therese Mölk is a bakery from Tyrol which are producing very healthy bread with products just from our bio-farmers in Tyrol by hand. They started supporting me in 2012 where I started sliding at the world cup - in this time I had no great success but they went the way together with me till today. I love bread and the great sustainability projects from Therese mölk f.expl. they make beer and gin with old bread. They do not bake for the garbage - I like that.

A new partner is Fristads workwear - we are working hours to build the sleds and sanding runners, we working with steel and get dirty every time, they have perfect functional and safety workwear which are looking cool too.

Thank god, I get a car from Yesca which brings me safely from A to B on our long traveling adventures.

Sportlabor is the company where I get the purest and cleanest supplements which are so important for athletes.

Burg Vital is a great hotel where I can spend my regeneration days - that's worth it! I learned also a lot there about the right nutrition for my sport. I spent a lot of preparation time there for the last Olympics.

It was a lot of work to get these perfect partners and I am so happy that I can say the relationship to my partners is very personal, there is not the money in the foreground - quite different values and much more emotions when I race THATS whats a good long partnership should be.

Janine Flock - Photo by ÖOC Pichler

Janine Flock - Photo by ÖOC Pichler

How many different platforms do you represent your sponsors throughout the year?

Uhh, I don't know a number now but there are many different also social media became a platform.

What are your expectations from your sponsors?

An honest and trusting partnership.

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

What are you paying attention to when a new brand contacted you about sponsorship? What are the main factors that affect the beginning and continuity of successful sponsorship?

Trust, appreciation and common goals.

Do you accept offers for one-off catalog shootings or campaign-based work even if it is not long-term sponsorship?

Of course, but only if I can identify with the product or the campaign. I like this job besides the normal athlete life :)

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

Janine Flock - Photo by GEPA

Do you have any advice for young skeleton athletes?

Have always a plan… but be flexible! learn from the fails you need fails to learn! Be happy with small steps forward. You need patience, work hard on the goals which YOU can influence. First, there are many little goals on the way which you need to come to a big goal..some things just happen.

What do you think about social media? How did it affect the popularity of the skeleton?

It helps me a lot to get more attention for my sport we can show videos or what we are doing and so more people get to know about the skeleton. I learned to like it ;) you can use it wisely.

How can our readers follow you?

Follow me on Instagram (@janine.flock) or facebook (@Flock.Janine) or my homepage www.janine-flock.at

Thank you Janine for your time.

For more information, please click here to visit the website of Janine Flock





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