Anja Wicker already imagines what will be like to compete at a home World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Finsterau, Germany, from 10-19 February, when she is hoping to return to the world podium again after four years.
The 25-year-old will compete in both cross-country and biathlon races in the sitting category, but admits she will mostly focus on the latter, where she has enjoyed more success throughout her career, including a gold medal at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
“I want to compete for the podium. That is my goal,” said Wicker, who won her last medal at a World Championships in Solleftea, Sweden, in 2013, when she sealed silver in the women’s biathlon short distance sitting.
Wicker has shown top form at the beginning of this season, securing a win in the women’s biathlon long distance at a World Cup in Vuokatti, Finland.
“I was very happy with my performance on the shooting range in Finland. On the track there was still a lot to do. But at that time I had not had much snow training, so it was not that surprising for me,” she said.
Improving her ski time on the track is Wicker’s priority before the World Championships to ensure she arrives in Finsterau in good shape to compete with the world’s best.
“I hope I am getting there with my fitness on the sit-ski. However, there is still room for improvement,” she said.
“I wanted to use the competition at the World Cup in Western Center, Ukraine to get into better shape. After that, there is not much time left, so I will train a bit more and then rest.”
Wicker said competing in front of her home crowd will not add extra pressure.
“It is really exciting to have family and friends cheering for you and sharing this experience with you,” she said.
Not only does she have fans on her side, but she also has a good record in Finsterau, as she finished on the podium twice at a World Cup last year.
“I like the tracks in Finsterau. I have great memories from the last couple of times I competed there,” she said.
“It would be amazing to win a medal in front of my home fans but there is still a long way to go.”
The 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships will be held in Finsterau, Germany, from 10-19 February, and will feature around 135 athletes from 25 countries.