An absolute newcomer wins a silver medal in Winterberg! At this year's Bobsleigh World Championship, a 24-year-old student TUM came in second in the two-man run. Johannes Lochner has just handed in his Bachelor's thesis and then travelled the US. TUMstudinews-reporter Verena talked to the athlete about his surprising success.
Johannes, how come you ventured into the bobsleigh sport?
I've tried almost every winter sport: Biathlon, ski jumping, ice hockey… My uncle managed a second place in the Olympic Games of 1992 in the bobsleigh two-man run. My dad also used to be an active bobsleigher. The enthusiasm for winter sports runs in our family – and bobsleighing is just so much fun. Once you went down the bobsleigh run, you can’t stop.
How long have you been active in this sport?
Only for three years, all in all – but professionally, meaning on an international level, only since this year. Usually, you’d take part in the European Cup for two or three years before giving the World Cup a shot. What I've done is actually unique, and I still can’t really believe it.
What exactly is it that is unique?
This year, I took part in the German qualifications for the first time. I managed to qualify for the World Cup in the two-man run. The catch was, however, that you have to take part in at least five European Cup races before entering the World Cup. So I had to compete in five European races.
Was that not stressful?
Oh yes, it was – especially because I took part in the two-man and the four-man run. Thus, there were four races in one week. Participating in the World Cup was more relaxed. I only took part in the two-man runs, so I was even able to work on my bachelor thesis in Electrical Engineering a bit. At the World Cup, I managed to qualify for the World Championships in Winterberg, where I won the silver medal.
Why did this not happen before this year?
Before this winter semester, I only had my bachelor thesis to accomplish – and I knew that I would get it done by the end of March at the latest. During the first two years of my studies, I only had until Christmas for the bobsleighing, because I had to learn for my exams after that. During the semester break, I kept up training and worked at my parents’ electrical installation company.
Is that why you chose to study at TUM?
Exactly! Before starting my course of studies, I was at a technical school in Salzburg, the HTL. I started my studies in Munich in winter 2011. That’s also when I started with bobsleigh courses for beginners. Last year, I took part in the Junior World Cup as a brakeman, but I always felt a bit awkward as a brakeman. I quickly realized that I wanted to be a pilot myself. Well, then things just took their course.
Can your studies and your sports be combined well?
For me, the University always had top priority. Over the last three years, I never had any problems balancing my studies and the sports. I’m in the squad for the first time this year. The Olympic base assigns you to a person of trust and to a Liaison Professor. I never had to fall back on him, but it’s a good thing to be able to, in case you have to reschedule exams, for example.
So it's not getting too much for you at times?
No, not yet. I need to compensate between studying and sports. At the moment, I’m not in the mood for sports at all – so I’m really happy that it’s time to “think" again. When I’m finished with my studies, I’ll probably be happy to be able to concentrate on sports again. I really like this half-year rhythm.
How often do you train?
Usually, I go to training every day, with an average of seven to nine training units a week. Though, until the beginning of the next season, that’s reduced to once a week.
You just got back from a visit to the US. How was it and what where you doing there?
It was totally awesome, more impressive than I had expected – really overwhelming! My girlfriend and I travelled around for three weeks. We started in New York, from where we flew to San Francisco and then travelled to LA by car. From there, we went on to the national parks near the Grand Canyon and on to Las Vegas.
What will you be doing next?
Well, the new season started at the beginning of April – which means that it’s time for workout again. That’s the most tedious part of the build-up phase. The elimination races are scheduled for October. At TUM, I’ll be starting with the Master’s courses of Electrical Engineering.
What are your goals for the future?
My two main goals are to participate in the Olympics 2018 and not to take too long to finish my Master’s studies. I want to do bobsleighing as long as it’s fun and as long as I can keep up the performance. In summer, I will continue to work in my parents’ company. If, one day, I’m through with sports – and if nothing else gets in the way – I want to start my own business in Berchtesgaden: a planning bureau for public grounds, schools or hotels, for example.
Johannes Lochner (24) is in his first Master’s semester of Electrical Engineering. He was born in Berchtesgaden and, so to speak, grew up with a bobsleigh run outside his front door. His bachelor thesis was about a photovoltaic system for the Green School Zambia.