Daniel Greig satisfied with past season, despite chronic injury
With personal bests in the 500m and 1000m, it has been a pretty successful season for Australian speed skater Daniel Greig. But despite these good races, Greig had to face several downs as well, most of them due to his ongoing knee injury. He skated well at World Sprints in Calgary with his first 34s race in the 500m, a national record, but also admits to the fact he could have been sharper at times. Nevertheless, overall he looks back satisfied, and is looking forward to what next season will bring, as is his coach Desly Hill, especially now that both Greig and Hill have recently changed teams, from APPM to Liga.
By Jolanda Abbes
Desly, how do you look back on Daniel’s season?
“Daniel had a pretty successful season when you know the facts about what he went through with his injury. This year, he could not do a normal training load due to an acute tendinitis in his knee (quad tendon). What he could do is spend time working on his technique and due to skating with the APPM team that went very well. Gerard van Velde is a great technical coach and the guys on that team are great too and that allowed Dan to survive a mentally hard season. So his positive point was that he had extra time to work on some technical aspects that if injured he may not have spent the time on. The downside, however, would be that his training load was smaller than usual. He showed great promise in the 1000m generating a great first 600m and he got pb's in both the 500 and 1000m. It's exciting to know that he finished the season with the same sea level pb time as Michel Mulder had last year! On top of that, Dan and me both changed teams recently and are now working with the Liga Team. Dan will skate with the 6 girls plus a training partner that has joined from Canada – Lucas Duffield. The coaches are myself, Marianne Timmer and Floor van Leeuwen. Dan made this decision because in this training situation he can focus more on training that really caters for his knee rehabilitation and he is free to get optimum support from the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) and the Liga experts. The surrounding facilities and staff the team provides are the best support an athlete can have in my opinion. Still, Gerard and his team were amazing for Dan also and I’m sure the guys there made him a better skater!”
Daniel, how do you look back in general on the past season, and what would you consider to be the highlight and greatest disappointment?
“The highlight was probably my 500m pb on the second day of the World Sprint Championships, where I did my first 34s race. Actually, those entire two weeks that contained the SLC World Cup and the Calgary World Sprints would be a highlight for me, because less than a month before, between Christmas and New Year’s, I was sitting in my doctor’s office discussing the bad results of an MRI scan of my knee we just received. We were all unsure as to whether I would be able to skate at all during that period because of the agitated state of my knee. But with very careful preparation and a lot of help from my physiotherapists it made that round possible. The greatest disappointment was probably my 1000m at World Single Distances. On the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before I raced the 1000m I was sick in bed. I had very unfortunately caught a bad cold somehow at the start of the week and instead of preparing like I wanted to, I spent most of my week in my bed. When it came to the race, my first 600m went exactly how I wanted them to. But then my body really felt the effect of the cold that it was still fighting and had been for a week beforehand. My legs just stopped moving like I wanted them to, and what could have been one of my best 1000m races ever turned into one of the worst. The day after I still felt terrible, and the sickness only lifted enough for me to skate better in the 500m.”
You skated to a pb in the 1000m in SLC this season; can you give a short analysis of that race?
“It's hard to look back on that race and analyze it, because of the mind set I took into it. It was only my second or so 1000m of the season I think, due to my persistent knee injury. I had no idea what I would manage to coax out of my body there, I had prepared well in terms of my skating form but I still had some doubts about my fitness. I just went into the race wanting to beat my opponent Haralds Silovs from Latvia, I knew he could do an alright 1000m but I had no idea that he would go as fast as he did there. For the first 600m I just wanted to make as much speed as possible so that if my fitness decided to fail me, the fast ice and low air pressure of Salt Lake City would carry me to the finish. I noticed that I was about level with him at the 600m, I had no idea if this meant anything, I just wanted to finish as strong as I could. Going into the last turn I was so uncoordinated that I almost crashed, but when I saw the time I was satisfied.”
How do you look back in general on World Sprints? Do you feel you skated all your races to your fullest potential?
“I really should have been sharper on the first day, my 500m was very messy and in my 1000m I didn't make enough speed in the beginning. As such I think my rank at the end of the first day was 23rd or something like that. Both my coaches commented that I was missing some speed that was there the week before, and as it is most of the time with these things, it could be solved by some mental sharpening. The next day I came back and raced a good 500m which put me inside the primary criteria for the final, the second 1000m. But due to a rule concerning the lane draw, I was bumped out of qualification by skaters slower than myself who were lucky enough to draw the luckier racing lane. I know had I been allowed to race the final 1000m there, I would have done another pb, but I just should have skated faster on the first day to make it sure.”
You skated to a pb in the 500m at World Sprints and went sub 35 for the first time: can you give a full analysis of that race?
“No, you can never remember everything that you feel in a good race. Even if you look back on the video and pick every little technical detail, you can't assemble a whole picture. The first 100m I remember being very smooth, I got all my edges where I wanted them to be. And on the first corner I was making good speed out of the turn. My plan from the beginning was to try and pass Haralds on the back straight, which worked perfectly. And my last corner and last straight were solid enough to carry me to the finish in under 35, just. But if I want to skate well again, whatever I thought and felt in the race is of little relevance, I have to look at the preparation.”
For a previous question we discussed this to some extent, but how do you look back in general on the World Single Distances Championships?
“I prepared well and improved on the things that I wanted to improve on. It's just a pity that at some point, I forgot to wash my hands after doing an autograph for a child or stood too close to someone who sounded sick. While I was so focused on sharpening my skating and technique for the race, which I think I did well, I may have neglected another important part of race preparation. Or maybe I was just really unlucky.”
How is summer training going? What will be important points for you to focus on?
“This time I am working more closely with the Australian Institute of Sport, mainly because when I was back in Australia I was doing extensive rehab for my chronic knee condition with them and they are sure that together we can manage it to make the next season problem free. Also, this season I am training with Team Liga, which means a smaller training group of men (only two), and that gives me a lot more freedom in my program to write it to my specific needs, as we have access to Team Liga's great professionals. The biggest thing that, this year, I will do better is; listening to my body. This last season has proved to me that even without any real conditioning, my fitness is good enough to take me part of the way to where I want to go in terms of my results. So now I can feel more confident when my body tells me it needs a rest, to just take it.”
How do you look forward to next season, keeping Sochi 2014 in mind? What will be important things for you to focus on?