You began your winter preparations by spending some days in the Swiss mountains. Tell us a bit about it – was it worth doing?
Loris Karius: It was a very intense experience for us, and I think spending days together as a team like that really does a lot to bring you closer together. Hiking through the snow at high altitude was tough work and it was obviously bitterly cold, but thanks to our good equipment, we didn't freeze overnight in our bivouac. It was a lot of fun and it was something a bit different for us, whilst the views over the mountains in the mornings were simply stunning.
Tattoos are part of the norm in the Bundesliga nowadays, but yours are a bit different. Can you tell us what the nose-diving birds are about?
Karius: It's certainly not a case of them crashing (laughs). Those are two swallows on my chest, but they don't have a particular meaning. Perhaps birds symbolise freedom and hope, but I really just liked the way they looked, so I chose to get them tattooed on me.
Things are going well for you, with three wins on the bounce at the moment. What's your secret to success?
Karius: Our team spirit makes us strong. Our squad gets on very well, be it on the pitch, in the dressing room and away from football. Along with footballing quality, which we've shown we have lots of, that can really make the difference. On top of that, we have a passionate manager who really pushes us forwards.
Have you set yourself new goals after showing such impressive form?
Karius: No, the main goal is and remains staying in the division. As soon as we've managed that, we can start to look ahead. It's done us well so far to take things one game at a time, so we'll stick to that strategy and won't set ourselves any loftier aims.
You've played for Mainz since 2012. What advantages does the team have for a young player?
Karius: Everyone here gets the chance to develop themselves in the best way possible. It's relaxed, it feels familiar and you know that if you play well enough as a youngster, it's a realistic aim to earn a place in the Bundesliga squad. I think that's ideal for a young player to get the most out of themselves and make the next step forwards.
You've already kept three clean sheets since the winter break…
Karius: …and I hope to keep building on this statistic. Ideally on Saturday in Hoffenheim!
TSG are in the middle of a relegation battle. What do you expect from the game on Saturday at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena?
Karius: I'm certainly expecting an intense 90 minutes. We saw in Bremen that Hoffenheim don't hide away, even when their backs are against the wall. The squad also has a lot of individual quality and a new, young manager, who might be able to give them the decisive impetus. It'll be a real battle for the points.