Who can forget the dynamic way that saw Didier Cuche finish his career in Schladming back in March? When one door closes another opens and the 2012 – 2013 sees the most successful team of last season back with what is an even stronger roster of racers. New marquee signings have strengthened the team that scored more World Cup points than any other brand last season; Aksel Lund Svindal and Lindsey Vonn also won Crystal Globes. Add to this the fact that Lindsey was so close to breaking the magical 2000 World Cup points barrier and Didier winning Kitzbuehel again this was a magical season. While Didier Cuche and Anja Paerson retired from racing after hugely successful careers, the new members of the HEAD World Cup Rebels team bring excitement and hope for the forthcoming season. Beat Feuz, Georg Streitberger and Julia Mancuso join the racers from last season as they look to better the results from the last World Championships in 2011 and World Cup last season.
Swiss star, Beat Feuz joined at the end of last season. Feuz believes that “the history and strength of the team will help me” and has his sights on the top step in the season long race for Globes; second place is not an option! Feuz is determined and ‘wants to win medals,’ he states. Feuz is adamant that he is joining the HEAD World Cup rebels, not just to make up the numbers but also to ‘become one of the best among the team.”
Julia Mancuso will be a major force on the World Cup this season Franz Klammer believes and the move to HEAD will be the making of her: ‘she will get even better.’ Mancuso is an exciting, interesting person and has spent the summer using different training methods to improve her breathing while she is skiing: “I have been doing a lot of Pilates and training with pulleys and springs. I have also been doing free diving after being inspired by a friend.”
Also joining this season is Austrian, Georg Streitberger. Streitberger is excited to be joining a HEAD team that is super strong team in the speed events. Already looking to improve his skiing, Streitberger knows that it will not be easy yet has his goals set on the World Championships and adding to his two World Cup wins in the Super G World Cup.
Last season the star of the show was undoubtedly Lindsey Vonn: The wins were numerous, the records tumbled and she came so close to breaking the magical 2000 World Cup point mark. Yet this is a new season, so what does she make of all the new equipment? “It wasn’t as hard of a process to change as I expected because HEAD had done so much work preparing and testing the new models to make them better. The change did not affect the way I prepare for a season; it simply means a higher volume of runs.”
Last season Maria Hoefl-Riesch started out as the racer to beat having won the Overall, this year she starts out again as one of the hunters chasing Lindsey Vonn. Hoefl-Riesch has spent the summer training in NZ and Chile again and has a new service man and fitness trainer for the upcoming season. Further she released her book ‘Geradeaus’. And of the new ski regulations, she remains upbeat yet knows that things will only be known when the racing starts! A fit and healthy Hoefl-Riesch is determined to give it her all!
Lizz Goergl enters the new season relaxed and ready to defend her two World Championships titles won in Garmisch. With all the new kit that is at her disposal, Goergl says, she has ‘been more focused on freeskiing with the new material.’ The preparation for the new season has been meticulously prepared and planned and with the home support expected in Schladming she is excited and ready for the new season.
Anna Fenninger has a passion for speed and has spent the summer getting to grips with her motorcycle. Already an accomplished downhiller and Super G racer, the World Super Combined Champion spent a lot of the summer improving her fitness and gymnastic work: handsprings, front and back flips are now all part of her fitness routine! All this hard work is paying off in terms of her feelings for the new equipment and she feels ready and excited for the new season.
One of the great weekends of racing last winter was the trip to Kvitfjell in Norway. More renown as a giant slalom racer, Kjetil Jansrud blitzed the opposition in the first two races and then finally made the top step of a World Cup race in the Downhill. With the new equipment for the season, how does he feel things have changed: “The technical finesse has now been changed with raw power,” states Jansrud. Yet he feels that “Finally this is a season where I can compete for medals in at least three disciplines. I can’t wait.”
Marcel Mathis gave the established stars a wake up call last season during the Bansko stop for the Giant Slalom. A dramatic second run saw him take third place and he backed this up with another third in Schladming at the Finals. With his father now concentrating of preparing his skis, much is expected for the young Austrian. The young Rebel is clean and precise with his goals: “I just want to ski fast! I am young and I want to win!”
Ted Ligety feels that he is the “embodiment of the Rebel now and brings consistency in the tech side of the brand.” Ligety wants to challenge for the Overall and while he is strong in the Giant Slalom and consistent in the Super G, it is the slalom, his original best event, where he feels that he is “making steps to that goal.” With the improvement to his speed skiing, it “will be a matter of keeping the confidence high and getting a good run on the slopes” as he looks to challenge for the big Globe.
There is one racer that embodies ski racing and the way of life that HEAD racers bring to racing: Bode Miller. Miller is looking forward for the season: Now married and post surgery to his knee, Miller has a strong desire to add the Downhill globe to his personal success story. With a new serviceman preparing his skis, Miller is looking forward to the new season!
Aksel Lund Svindal won the Super G Globe last season and was back on the winners step in the downhill as well. While he has concerns about how the new ski regulations will perform in events that have changing conditions, the quality training that he has been doing over the summer, he feels will see him ready for the season.
When it comes round to contract time, this is always a decision for the racer that has a huge effect on their career. Coming into the new season, Kjetil Jansrud reflected on having re-signed to HEAD at the end of last season: “The two years I have had on HEAD were a pleasure: Highly professional people and a great atmosphere. HEAD is deadly serious in its work and it has the best racing department out there!”
Bring on the racing!