At the beginning of the season, the boss of the HEAD Speedoholics, Rainer Salzgeber, hoped that his racers this season could match that of the previous season. The facts speak for themselves. The season long World Cup has just finished with HEAD racers capturing the seven Globes, more than any other ski brand this winter. Add to this winning more Gold Medals than any other ski brand at the Garmisch World Championships and you have one word: SUCCESS.
HEAD racers won or placed on the podium in nine of the ten Alpine disciplines this season and scored more points than any other ski brand in the FIS Alpine World Cup Brand Ranking. The HEAD racing team made 66 podiums through the season with 22 of them being on the top step. Lindsey Vonn lead the way with eight wins. Also on the top step were Maria Riesch, Anja Paerson, Ted Ligety, Aksel Lund Svindal, Didier Cuche. Joining them on the podium through the season were: Lizz Goergl, Kjetil Jansrud, Stephan Keppler, Bode Miller and Anna Fenninger.
Maria Riesch finally captured the Overall. For the last two years she has been second behind Lindsey Vonn and the Overall is what every racer dreams of winning. With six race wins in four different disciplines, just Giant Slalom eluded her, this was a fantastic season for the German. The season was long and hard and with five races being cancelled due to the weather, Riesch scored points when it counted. An unexplained dip in confidence nearing the end of the season nearly allowed Lindsey Vonn to take the Overall but a fourth place in the last slalom of the season just edged her over the line. Early wins in North America gave Riesch the springboard for this successful season but her consistency across the board gave her the base for the Overall win. While the pressure built towards the end of the season, the fact Riesch was able to relax in the final slalom gave her the impetus to edge far enough ahead of Vonn and take the lead. Then the weather helped her! Had a fever not hit her during Garmisch, this could well have been an even more successful season. The Globe and two bronze medals is more than what some people win in a career.
For Lindsey Vonn the run in to the end of the season started with her trailing Maria Riesch by over 200 points. All was looking down but then you can never count this fighter out. Vonn was not going to give up her Overall Globe easily and from Are and Tarvisio, Vonn was the racer to beat. Lindsey was on a roll as the season progressed to its finale, she was in the mix having been so far off with just a few races to go. “I feel privileged to have been part of one of the most exciting World Cup Overall tussles,” explained Vonn after the weather had, she felt, “ruined it for the fans.” Vonn has already vowed to come back next season having worked harder during the off season. Injuries always strike at weird times and a head injury prior to the World Championships meant Lindsey was “happy” with her silver in the Downhill to add to her three small Globes in Downhill, Super G and Super Combined.
The World Cup may not have gone totally to plan for Lizz Goergl but with two World Championship Gold medals, this was an awesome season for her. Lizz opened the Championships by singing the theme tune for the Championships and twenty four hours later she was back on the podium as the Super G World Champion. By the Sunday she was back again, as a Double World Champion having taken the challenge to Lindsey Vonn, Maria Riesch and the rest and won the Downhill as well. Six podiums in the World Cup kept her challenge going in the Overall but fourth place was where she ended up. Second place in the Super Combined in Val d’Isere being the pick of her results for the season.
Anna Fenninger has promised much in the past and this season she made a Golden return on this promise at the World Championships in the Super Combined. Fenninger was in fourth after the Downhill section of the race and as she walked out of the finish area, you could see the determination in her eyes. The Slalom race was on the other side of town and Fenninger was on a mission. This was her day. This was the day when the promise shown as a Junior was delivered at the Senior World Championships. Two podiums, one each in Downhill and Super G, were the pick of her results in the World Cup but in Garmisch, in the Super Combined, she was on the top step and that was the highlight of her season.
Anja Paerson admitted at the beginning of the season that she was now skiing for fun. She had thought of retirement but she still loved ski racing so much that she was not ready to give it up. There were still things she wanted to do. And those things are called winning races and medals. In Garmisch, Anja won her seventeenth World and Olympic Championship medal in the Super Combined. In Tarvisio she won in the Downhill just days after what looked like a season ending knee injury in Are. This was her 42nd career World Cup win, more even than fellow HEAD racer Lindsey Vonn has won! Anja is still there and still looking to win races!
With two Globes to his name from the season, Didier Cuche could have decided to call time on his career. Already the oldest man to win on the World Cup, Cuche still enjoys his racing and has, he feels, a lot more to offer. Cuche won in Kitzbuehel with one of the most memorable and fascinating runs of all time: He had Kitzbuehel legends Franz Klammer and Stephan Eberharter drooling, poetry in motion some commentators described his run as. Didier now has four Downhill Globes and ranks second in the all time list to one Franz Klammer.
Ted Ligety started the season with the red bib as the defending World Cup Champion in Giant Slalom. Ted finished the season with it. Soelden was cancelled due to fog that would just not move as the second run was about to begin and then Ted went on a spree: A World Cup Giant Slalom race winning spree! Beaver Creek was the first time he had won at home; then came Val d’Isere where he won by over a second and to top the winning run he then won in Alta Badia, one of the classic Giant Slalom courses. Ted was in supreme form in Giant Slalom. Next year he plans to score more points in Super G and wants to recapture his form in Slalom for a crack at the Overall. The man is on a mission!
Aksel Lund Svindal is one of the most devastating all round skiers of his generation. You can never count him out of a race. As the only racer to defend his World Championship title in Garmisch, Aksel destroyed the rest of the field in the downhill section and then used his slalom skills to see the number one against his name in the finish. A true all round Champion! Aksel also won on the World Cup tour with victory in the Giant Slalom in Adelboden. Aksel spent much of the season testing skis whenever it would allow so that he is more prepared for next winter: “We do not get that much time to test skis in downhill so I try to do it on the training runs,” Aksel explained in Chamonix.
And then there were also moments of true magic from the younger racers Kjetil Jansrud (Giant Slalom), Stephan Keppler (Super G in Val Gardena) and of course, how could one leave out Bode Miller when reviewing the season. Bode is a big race skier. He still has a burning desire to win and this was shown in Kitzbuehel. On any other day he would have won and it took a magical run by Cuche to dislodge him from the top spot. In Garmisch he so nearly confounded the critics and felt he had no chance having made too many errors in the downhill yet still held the lead for a long time from his early start number. Hans Olsson, Werner Heel and Johan Clarey all started to make inroads into the top ten on the world cup this season, Olsson’s sixth place in Lenzerheide being the pick of the bunch.
The numbers only tell a small part of the story through the year. Success breads success and all of the athletes on the HEAD worked together to get the skis and boots working better and thus faster. This combination of athletes working together will see the fruits of their labours on the skis and boots available to those further down the scale. Aksel Lund Svindal spoke regularly about the need to be constantly testing kit and using all the downhill training runs to test, test and test more stuff. Ted Ligety and Kjetil Jansrud were also out there testing kit to make things go faster. Who better to test and perfect the skis and boots than World Cup race winners?
So now the World Cup is over for another season, the HEAD Roll of Honour from 2010 - 2011….
FIS Alpine World Championships - HEAD medalists
• Lizz Goergl (Women’s Downhill and Super G)
• Anna Fenninger (Women’s Super Combined)
• Ted Ligety (Men’s Giant Slalom)
• Aksel Lund Svindal (Men’s Super Combined)
• Lindsey Vonn (Women’s Downhill)
• Didier Cuche (Men’s Downhill)
• Maria Riesch (Women’s Downhill and Super G)
• Anja Paerson (Women’s Super Combined)
FIS Alpine World Cup Globe winners
• Overall: Maria Riesch (GER) HEAD
• Downhill: Lindsey Vonn (USA) HEAD
• Super G: Lindsey Vonn (USA) HEAD
• Super Combined: Lindsey Vonn (USA) HEAD
• Downhill: Didier Cuche (SUI) HEAD
• Super G: Didier Cuche (SUI) HEAD
• Giant Slalom: Ted Ligety (USA) HEAD
HEAD - Winners of seven of the twelve Globes on the FIS Alpine World Cup and 22 race wins.
HEAD – the number 1 brand in the World Cup 2010/11.