Teams Talk: Ronnie Schildknecht on The SLT Rhinos

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A week after the SLT Teams draft Ronnie Schildknecht still cannot believe his luck.

The Rhinos manager was mulling over back-up options for his opening female pick after he was drawn to select second. But after Annie Emmerson used her first choice to draft Sophie Coldwell he got his dream female Super League athlete – Katie Zaferes.

Ronnie has drafted a strong team of all-rounders and is in confident mood ahead of the first race of the Championship Series.

SLT Rhinos: Katie Zaferes, Rachel Klamer, Yuko Takahashi, Valerie Barthelemy, Marten Van Riel, Jake Birtwhistle, Jannik Schaufler, Kenji Nener.

Here, he talks us through ‘Ronnie’s Rhinos’:


With Katie on the women’s side we have a really strong athlete. She has won a lot of SLT races and is one of the very best. Rachel Klamer is also very strong, fourth at the Olympics, and these girls will be going for the podium points. Valerie and Yuko are very strong as well and I think they compliment each other well. Valerie was 10th at the Olympics and Yuko 18th.

For the men Marten is a guy who can always win and a great swimmer. Jake didn’t have a great race at the Olympics but if he’s in top shape he can get these points as well.

Jannik is maybe not so known but he is a big talent and he can go for the swim points, bike potins or run points.

We have two stars and two who fit in very well and in the end it’s a team effort and I think my team is a good mix and I hope the structure works well.


I think the swim is not so important in these formats so, for example, Katie is a good swimmer but not her main asset but it won’t really matter.

I actually think it’s hard to find any weaknesses. The weakness or strengths will come with the team structure, how we work together and decide who goes for which points. Maybe Katie feels good or Rachel and one takes the swim or bike primes or maybe Yuko helps Katie.

On the men’s side, Jannik is unknown by many people, but I know him. First time in SLT so we will see how he will do and he has to prove himself.

team bonding

I think there will be no problems. I haven’t met them all only Marten and Jannik but I think I will get along with them so no problems with that.

biggest rivals

Tim Don has a good team and Chris as well with some good names in the girls and guys side with Vince and Mola. There is respect there for sure but I think the managers are pretty even so we will see how this pans out.

Who do you not have but wish you had in your team?

Vasco Vilaca definitely, and Max Studer.

team tactics

I will talk to them and that will be crucial. If you want to go for a swim prime or bike prime somebody will need to invest to get the team on top, maybe somebody needs to pull on the bike for the team.

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management style

I will try to integrate my ideas and we will learn a lot as we go. London will be the first race for the team and there will be a lot to learn for sure. I will follow very closely and try to give them a lot of feedback and help them make the right decisions in the next races.

London will be a surprise of sorts but then Munich, Jersey and Malibu I can get more inputs and get to know them a bit better and also how they feel because somebody will feel better or worse or want to target certain things. I will give them inputs from my experience as even though I was only on the Ironman distance I can help. I did race short course – just not very successfully!

how will SLT Teams will change the race dynamics?

The dynamics will change because there is a big chunk of prize money involved and it’s always nice to win in a team, the team spirit. I am really curious how this will pan out and how they will work together. I think the dynamics can really change and maybe there will be some surprise winners because we can really play with these team tactics. If somebody really puts themselves out there for the team instead of as an individual I think there is a lot possible, I really believe that.

If they race as a team, are honest with themselves and maybe help somebody if that feels right for them this will change a lot and we will really see how this evolution progresses. I do believe this is the future.

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