Athlete of the Month – October 2015

hubmann1 IOF Athelete of the Month
October 2015
Name: Daniel Hubmann
Country: Switzerland
Club: OL Regio Wil, Switzerland / Kristiansand OK, Norway
Date of Birth: April 16th 1983
Discipline: Foot Orienteering
Family: Married to Annette Hubmann, daughter Lina born September 9th 2015
IOF World Ranking: 1st Middle and Long, 1st in Sprint

Career Highlights: WOC Gold long 2008 Czech Republic and Hungary 2009, relay 2009, sprint 2011, middle and relay Scotland 2015. 19 WOC medals in total. World Games gold relay 2005 Germany, middle Taiwan 2009 and relay Colombia 2013. Six Word Games medals in total. EOC gold long Bulgaria 2010 and middle and long Portugal 2014. Ten EOC EOC medals in total. 6 times overall winner World Cup, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015. JWOC gold long and relay 2002.

Still going strong

At the last World Championships in Scotland Hubmann won gold in both the middle distance and the relay, and silver on the long distance. Now he has an incredible 19 WOC medals, but there are no plans to quit either medal picking or being a high level athlete. At least not for some time.

– Of course, I’m 32 years old now and I might have not so many years left. But at the moment I have no plans to stop. Of course I have won all important races you can win in orienteering. To win more races is one part of my motivation, to be a professional athlete is another part. I’ve organized my life quite well now with all the sponsors, recently I just signed a new three-year contract with my main sponsor. That’s why I can’t complain and why I will go one as a pro athlete as long as the motivation and results are stable.

A triumphant Daniel Hubmann at this year’s WOC.

Hubmann has trained as a carpenter, and when he was younger he worked part time as a carpenter. Since 2007 he has focused on his sport full time, but he is also qualified as a trainer.

-In some years’ time, will you be helping other athletes to reach new heights?

– Hmm, I’m not sure yet, even if have qualified as a trainer. Right now I’m not sure if I want to have the same lifestyle as I do now, with a lot of travelling to the same events without having a break from it.

Cowboy grown up

He has always liked nature and sport. As a boy, Hubmann spent most of his time outdoors, and was in the forest quite often. He grew up as a cowboy on a farm with cows producing milk in Eschlikon TG, what is in the North East of Switzerland, 50 kilometers from Zürich. About 4000 people live in the village. In Eschlikon he had a test loop just in the forest 300 meters away from the home.

_ There is quite a lot of forest around in Eschikon, mostly very steep and not very technical. But very nice for physical training. My club OL Regio Wil and my coach Kilian Imhof have been very active and we had some years with a nice training group – Hubmann brothers, David Schneider and others. It has been six organized trainings every week, Daniel says.

In 1994, at the age of 11, he took part in his first race on his own.

– I do not remember the race at all.

-Do you still have the map?

– I have a big collection of all the forests I have been in. But I don’t have this map anymore, because every time I had a race in the same forest again, I put away the old ones, he says.

Not an orienteering family

Daniel didn’t grow up in an orienteering family, but his uncle Jörg Hubmann was involved in the sport.

-I started because of him, he gave me a lift to the races.

Daniel was successful in all age classes from a young age. Orienteering was always his number one sport.

-What’s your advice for young orienteers trying to get better?

– Of course you need to work hard, but having fun is at least as crucial. I believe that hard work over a few years pays off, and a lot is connected to your motivation and your willingness.

The incredible brothers

He has two brothers, Beat, born in 1987, and Martin, born in 1989. His youngest brother is also among the world’s best. Martin got silver on the sprint at WOC in Scotland. At the sprint relay in Italy it was gold.

-What kind of level is Beat on?

-He does orienteering for fun now, and he has been coaching a youth group for some years. Earlier he was in the junior national team.

The Fan club

Daniel and Martin have a fan club together.

-The idea of the fan club is to build a community for people who are interested in us. Some are orienteers, but many are not. Soon we have our annual meeting and we expect 100 guests. In total we have 184 members. We got some new members this year, maybe because the Hubmann brothers won all the individual WOC medals for Switzerland this year, Daniel smiles.
-How often and how do you and Martin co-operate in training?

-We live in different parts of Switzerland, so we do not train together regularly.

Important step

At JWOC in Spain in 2002 he won both long and relay as a second last year junior.
-When I won JWOC thirteen years ago I really started to aim high. This was an important step and success in my career and gave me a lot of motivation.

The relay winners at JWOC in 2002 – Daniel Hubmann, Matthias Merz and Lukas Ebneter.

As a second year senior he become third overall in the World Cup, and he got his first individual World Cup triumph. This happened in Battersea Park in London.

-It was a great day for me in the middle of London. At that time, I wasn’t yet able to win forest races on top level, but luckily there were sprints, and I managed to win my first WC race at the age of 22. I still remember the sunny day, and that I was totally stunned when travelling back to the hotel.
Now the incredible Swiss athlete has run 109 World Cup races and won 26 of them.

Mayor Lola Ayinrode congratulates Daniel Hubmann with his first of so far 26 individual triumphs in the World Cup.

A lot of medals

The relay winners at World Games in 2005 – Matthias Merz, Lea Müller. Daniel Hubmann and Simone Niggli.

Later in 2005 he won silver in the sprint at WOC in Japan and bronze at the relay in the same championship. Three years later he got his first gold at WOC by winning the long distance. The year after it was two more golds and in 2011 it was first place at the sprint in France. The next big step was WOC on home ground, but Daniel didn’t get to start there.

During the second leg of the relay, on the last day of the European Championships 2012 in Sweden, he got an injury in his Achilles that needed months to recover. He got injured just some hundred meters before the finish, didn’t gave up, but finished in great pain. The injury was so bad that it could have been the end of his career in sport on a high level.

-Nobody could tell me if I would be able to do high level sport again, but I wanted to give it a try.

Really back on top

In 2013 he was really back in business, and was second overall in World Cup, but was ”only” fifth on his best individual at WOC in Finland. There was still some way to go, and it wasn’t until this year he felt he was back on the best level from 2008 and 2009 and maybe even a bit better. Two gold and a silver from WOC tell the truth. He now has six golds from WOC.

-Which of your victories has been the most important?

-Right now I think this year’s WOC gold on the middle distance is the most important one, because I had been waiting since 2011 for another gold. During this year many things happened and some people thought my time was over.

-What’s the secret of the success?

-There’s no secret. I believe that most of it is hard work over many years.

Hubmann in action at the European Orienteering Championships 2014

Never makes the same mistake twice

Uncle Jorg was Daniels first orienteering teacher. His next teacher was Kilian Imhof, who still trains him to this day.

-I started the cooperation with Daniel at the end of the last century, more than 15 years ago, says Imhof.

-Why is he doing so fantastically well?

-Of course, Daniel is very talented in orienteering skills and running. But from my point of view, he has two additional things. Firstly, he is an extremely good practical worker. He concentrates on the important points, and he makes errors only once. Secondly, he wants to win, but he also loves to train and to run, especially in nice nature terrain. He manages his life as a professional sportsman very well.

-How does your co-operation work?

-In the beginning we worked very closely together. Daniel lived just two kilometres from my home, and we met at least every week. Not only did we work on the planning together, I also accompanied him in a lot of training sessions. One of my coaching goals is to make the runners more and more independent and formed. Daniel now has a coaching qualification, and he absolutely knows how to perform. But we still have some good planning and discussion sessions together.

Five years ago Kilian also started to work with Daniel’s brother Martin.

– This year, we intensified our co-operation for preparing WOC. We made a private Hubmann training camp and had some successful extra trainings.

The map training

Daniel is on the top level both in sprint and the forest disciplines. He enjoys every kind of orienteering.
– I grew up with both. In the Swiss Team we started to focus on sprint very early. In my daily training I also focus on endurance and intervals. I train in the forest and I train on asphalt all year round.

Most of the training he does alone, he meets other athletes only around two to four times a week.

– Of course, sometimes it would be nice to have more company, but training from my own front door is very efficient.
-How often do you train with a map during a week?

-Usually I do two map trainings in a normal week at home. I look at some maps on World of and check the routes of some World Ranking events or national champs from other countries. That’s about two to three hours per week.

When he doesn’t have any problems most of the training is running. He trained 600 hours during the last 12 months and 130 hours orienteering.

 The well-known phrase

Daniel Hubmann - london

Daniel Hubmann on the way to his first WC triumph in the centre of London.

After Daniel had won his first World Cup triumph in Battersea Park ten and a half years ago he said to the IOF:

-It was a perfect race. I made no mistakes. It’s the best sprint race I ever have done.

Daniel had beat all the best orienteers in the world. He has continued to do so, and has also very often been able to use the same phrase.

-Well, I often say that it was a very good race, but not so many times that it was perfect. But that’s true, often I’m very happy after the races. I think in big competitions I can really push myself to the limits and getting everything out of my body, with full focus. When the races are not that important, sometimes I’m lazy.

A new life

In 2003 Daniel and Annette Kindschi became a couple. She is also an orienteer and has taken part in the World Cup for Switzerland once.

They live in Herrenschwanden. That’s just outside Bern, but it’s possible to start forest running from home.

9th September, three weeks after WOC, their first child was born, their daughter Lina.

Lina has changed their lives.

– It’s not a one-man organisation any more, and I’m not that free and flexible any more. Proper organisation has become even more important. But on the other hand, our little daughter gives me a lot of energy and I realize how fascinating it is to watch her grow up.

The next big goal

Now he is working hard to get to an even higher level and win his first WOC gold in Nordic terrain, in Strömstad, Sweden, in August.

– For me it’s obvious that I’m not just going there to have fun or to win a bronze medal. I train hard to win another gold medal there.

Text: Erik Borg
Photo: Erik Borg and Malin Björkqvist

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