It has been a season of records being broken by the HEAD World Cup Rebels. With 50 out of the 88 races on the FIS Audi World Cup seeing HEAD racers on the podium, this was a season that had many highlights for the racers as well as seeing many new faces making their breakthrough onto the podium. From Soelden, that saw wins for Lindsey Vonn and Ted Ligety all the way through to Schladming and the World Cup Finals, there was a regular sight of HEAD skis on the podium. In Sochi, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Lizz Goergl and Lindsey Vonn swept the board on the podium!
The hard facts of success explain just some of the success story of this season: Five of the ten Globes awarded at the end of the season were won by HEAD racers and with no major championships this season, HEAD racers took 28 race wins (17 by the women, 11 by the men), 20 runner up spots (12 and 8) and 18 third places (split evenly). All this added up to make HEAD the most successful brand on the Alpine Skiing World Cup Tour with 7630 World Cup points.
HEAD Race Department Manager, Rainer Salzgeber picked out his two highlights of the season: “The first real highlight was the first downhill in Lake Louise from Lindsey and the other highlight was that Ted was in the top fifteen in Slalom. We have only one racer and he is in the top fifteen so everything is not wrong!”
Lindsey Vonn has surpassed the record of the most number of points scored by a female racer and very nearly took the record of any racer. For Lindsey there were two highlights to the season: Having never won at home, her victory in Beaver Creek in December was very special to her and then winning for the 50th time in her career in Garmisch Partenkirchen was “amazing” she admitted, “It was special and emotional.” With twelve victories and the Downhill, Super G, Super Combined and Overall Globes as well as becoming the first woman to achieve seventeen podiums in two separate seasons and this was the third season she has won five downhill races in a season.
Maria Hoefl-Riesch came into the season as the defending Overall Champion. She ended the season with three wins and admitted “the form of Lindsey would have made defending the Overall difficult.” Maria recovered her season to place third in the Overall. “This was not a perfect season for me but a really good one. Although I did not win a Globe, I am really happy with my skiing at the moment. Next season I will be back for the Big Globe!” she explained.
Anna Fenninger made the break through and won her first World Cup race in Lienz in December. For her this was the highlight of her season and she also notched up five podium placings. “The third place in Bad Kleinkirchheim was also a highlight for me. Lake Louise was very important for me and my Super G was unbelievably strong and this has helped my confidence,” she explained. Anna managed to finish fifth Overall as well as third in the Super G.
Lizz Goergl added her name to the winner’s roster with victory in Bad Kleinkirchheim. This was a highlight for her “and then Sochi was really good,” she felt. “All my podiums were really good,” she added. Lizz’s consistency in the Downhill races saw her place third in the discipline standings.
The HEAD World Cup Rebel men’s team got off to a great start with Ted Ligety winning the opening race in Soelden. By the fourth race of the season HEAD racers had stood on the top step in each race! Ted Ligety’s win in Kranjska Gora, winning by a massive 1.61 seconds, having been over two seconds ahead at the final split, showed that while he may not have won the Globe, he was “skiing very, very fast this year in Giant Slalom and in my opinion I was the fastest Giant Slalom Skier just not the best Giant Slalom skier.”
While the records will say that the Downhill in Val Gardena was cancelled, the race was being lead by Johan Clarey when the weather forced its cancellation. This would have been the Frenchman’s first World Cup win and showed the improvement he is now making.
One HEAD World Cup Rebel who did make the breakthrough and win his first World Cup race was Kjetil Jansrud. Kjetil is recognised as one of the fastest Giant Slalom skiers yet it was in the Super G in Kvitfjell that he made the breakthrough. Two podiums in the first two races that memorable weekend and then Kjetil stood on the top step in the second Super G.
Ben Thomsen is a Canadian on the move and the Olympic Test Events in Sochi saw him score his first World Cup podium. In two years the Olympics will now see Thomsen as one of the racers to beat and the confidence he gained from making the podium also saw him jump up the start list for the remaining races of the season.
When your father is the serviceman to one of the great skiers of the time, you are able to reap the rewards and gain the knowledge of skiing fast. Marcel Mathis is the son of Bode Miller’s serviceman and with two third places in Giant Slalom, Marcel is one of the young Rebels coming through the ranks and more will be seen of him next year. Bode Miller had a shortened season following injury yet still managed to win Beaver Creek as well as podium in Classic races at Val Gardena and Wengen.
Aksel Lund Svindal won the Super G Globe and finished third for the Overall Globe. Race wins in Downhill at the World Cup Finals and in the Super G in Lake Louise confirmed him as one of the most exciting racers of his generation. Aksel knows that he is returning to the form that saw him win the Overall and next year will be looking to recapture the Overall Globe he last won in 2009.
When the annals of the season are written, there is one man who said farewell to the world of ski racing in the most glorious fashion: He chose his spiritual home to make the announcement and then promptly won the Race for the fifth time to become the most successful racer at Kitzbuehel. That man is Didier Cuche. Having just missed out on the Downhill and Super G Globes, Didier bowed out of racing in 1950’s skiing equipment. It was a fitting way for the great man to leave the sport and his peers paid homage by trying to recreate his customary ski flick in the finish! Didier leaves the sport after 16 years of racing on the World Cup, 4 Downhill Globes, 1 Super G and 1 Giant Slalom Globe and 21 World Cup race wins.
While she did not win a podium place in her final season, Anja Paerson also retired from the sport at the end of the season. With six Olympic medals, eleven World Championship medals and 42 World Cup wins, Anja has decided to finish her career.
So those are the HEAD World Cup Rebels that have graced the podium on the World Cup in the 2011 – 2012 World Cup. The numbers speak for themselves; the personalities all have one thing in common: They are HEAD World Cup Rebels!