From a top athlete to an elite electrician Daniel Gerber’s journey to EuroSkills 2018

He could’ve stood on the winner’s podium, but an illness abruptly ended his skiing career. Daniel Gerber, an electrician, is now putting all he's got into training for EuroSkills, the European Championship for young professionals.

Daniel Gerber’s journey to EuroSkills 2018

Daniel Gerber, do you feel ready to face the media?

Daniel Gerber: Yes, I've already experienced speaking in front of lots of people. Once I even had the opportunity to interview a former competitive downhill skier at a company event.

Yet you still learned something at the SwissSkills media training.

I'd even say I learned a lot. I realized that it’s important to prepare for interviews — and that I don't have to respond to all questions. It was also interesting to learn a bit about social media from UBS. I've never delved into the topic that deeply. So I didn't know, for example, how you can expand your audience on Instagram with hashtags.

Will you start using Instagram now?

I'd like to post something while I'm in Budapest at EuroSkills. But I'm currently very busy with training, so I don’t have time to post three times a day. Up until now, I’ve mostly used my social media accounts to search for something.

How are you preparing for EuroSkills?

I’ve been taking part in trainings and courses. I’ve also enrolled in private training. Feller AG, based in Horgen, runs a training camp that I've been able to attend. And I also practice at home.

What do you expect from EuroSkills?

I just want to give my best ... I want to experience what happens when I don’t give up and withstand such high pressure. I also think that EuroSkills will be a springboard for my own professional development. Lastly, I want to motivate those younger than me — I want to be a role model for those new to the electrical industry.

You’ve also previously delivered peak performances as a competitive skier.

I trained intensively as a skier at the regional elite training center in Hoch-Ybrig. I engaged in sports at an elite level and wanted to be a professional skier.

But despite being a top athlete, you chose a profession anyway!

Honestly, I didn’t give it too much thought. I tried out at my godfather’s company — and I enjoyed it. It just so happened that my training also fit well with my ski training. That’s why I'm an electrician today, for which I'm grateful.

What made you quit elite sport?

A stroke of fate. I was diagnosed with acute leukemia and had to undergo a course of chemotherapy for two years. I was very close to death. I thought only about surviving. Afterwards, I didn't have the strength to get myself back to my previous fitness level. I knew how much training it would take to get me there – it wasn't worth it to me anymore.

You also had to take a break from your apprenticeship.

Yes, I had to put my apprenticeship on hold for one year, but my employer was very generous. I was allowed to keep my apprenticeship position and return gradually after my recovery. I started with working two hours, extended that up to a half-day — until I was fully capable again.

Where did you find strength during these hard times?

I got strength from the strong people around me — my family, friends and fellow competitive skiers. They were all very supportive. But I'm the type of person who never gives up. Deep down I knew: I would get better again! And I did everything in my power to make that happen. As soon as I could do two push-ups, I did them. I never lost my drive.

How did you get to the top of your game in your profession?

In the fourth year of my apprenticeship, an instructor asked me if I wanted to compete in the regional championships. I said yes. At the regional championships, I qualified for SwissSkills, the Swiss championships. I came in third. And this is my ticket to EuroSkills in Budapest.

Do you sometimes regret not being a pro skier anymore?

No, being an expert in my profession is just as good. I'm also still in contact with my ski club. In the meantime, I’ve become a trainer and do sometimes get back on my skis. I still like sports — especially cycling and skiing. But for the moment, I'm concentrating on EuroSkills.

What’s your plan for after EuroSkills?

I’ve already enrolled in further training to become a manager in charge of installation and safety on electrical engineering projects. I'm already looking forward to that!

The live wire electrician

Give your all — that’s Daniel Gerber’s motto both in sports and at work. The 23-year-old electrician from Hirzel, a member of SwissSkills, the Swiss national team, is getting ready for EuroSkills 2018, the European Championship for young skilled professionals taking place in Budapest this year. Gerber works for Ammann Elektro in Horgen.

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