Archive for December, 2010

World Cup Memories

Posted by Urban Laurenčič under Uncategorized
Dec 28, 2010

Marcel Hirscher - 2010 Val d'Isere slalom World Champion

Marcel Hirscher - 2010 Slalom World Champion in Val d'Isere

I remember how Matjaž Vrhovnik and I traveled to report the World Championship in 2009. In Garmisch - Partenkirchen, we commentated on the slalom races, which came to an end at around the fourteenth hour and thirtieth minutes. We then hastily slurped down a soup in the press room and off we were on our journey. A journey that took us through Austria and Switzerland. Soon enough, it began to snow and although we both love snowflakes, they actually made the task a little harder for our old Toyota. We drove for almost twelve hours. And if my memory serves me well, I was always behind the wheel, for I couldn’t catch a minute’s sleep. I kept a vigilant eye on the slippery road surface, followed other vehicles, at times battling with bands of fog and counting the miles left to our destination, deep in the heart of the Savoy Alps.

I love traveling with Matjaž. Through our cooperation, we have woven a solid friendship, which goes now beyond the usual levels of business and courtesy. Our acquaintance back in 2004 began quite timidly as we were still figuring each other out. Five years later, we were on our way to our third World Cup together and acted like an old married couple. In France we took along on our trip some readymade meals and cans that we heated up in our apartment, saving ourselves a few Euros in the process. Food prices in Val d’Isère are indeed several times higher than those we are used to in our grocery stores.

Our discussions in the car were pretty relaxed, even though we struggled to stick to the ski topic. As it was, we often also switched to regular everyday topics. Hours go by so quickly.As we started off on our journey from Geneva towards the south, the snow abated and I could now press a tad more on the gas. I must say that I’m not afraid to set the speed radar detector, since the registration plate on Slovenian RTV business car were very dirty anyway, as well as snowed and iced up. Although I got flashed once, I never actually received the penalty.

As we arrived in Albertville we knew that much of the road was already behind us. The only thing that was left for us to do was to reach 1850 from where Val d’Isere dominates the surrounding peaks. I was thinking about this road trip the previous Sunday on my way home from work. Earlier that day, the Austrian Marcel Hirscher won his first slalom race in a World Cup. On that same day, I commentated in the national TV’s studios in Ljubljana and then wandered home. Taking a walk after commentating always reinvigorates me. I get to sort my thoughts together, clear my mind, and I actually exercise.

This Championship has not been one that I have reported with pleasure. First we mostly had bad weather, then, the race schedule was constantly altered and the temperatures were extremely low. But what will, above all, remain in my memory is when I first stepped at the foot of the Bellevarde track. I had never seen such high and steep walls at any of the previous championships.

On top of it all, the organisers had put a large amount of water into the snow, a technique used to give the ice plates some semblance of ominous glittering through a blend of scarce sun rays and artificial lights.
It just happened that there is a particular type of terrain apt for all, and not only the favourites. There are skiers, who, because of their special techniques, are more adapted than others to a steeper type of slopes.

Marcel Hirscher was 19 years old then. In the giant slalom, he ended up fourth and only just missed the medals. Two years later, the doubt was cast away. Bellevarde now belongs to him.

Original text by Urban Lavrenčič translated from the Slovene by Christian Ngalikpima.

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From hero to zero!

Posted by Urban Laurenčič under Uncategorized
Dec 9, 2010

andi-schiffererMembers of the Executive Committee of the International Ski Federation decided during the summer congress in Antalya to make Vail the host of the 2015 World Cup. This fancy little Colorado village from the U.S. has twice already entertained this kind of competition . The first such occasion dates back in 1989 while the second one took place a decade later. Skiers previously underwent the speed disciplines in the nearby Beaver Creek back in 1999. Indeed Bernhard Russi has already downed the famous Bird of Preys track. As a matter of fact, this spectacular terrain was first tested with two downhill races a while ago, at the December 1997 World Cup.
While the Italian Kristian Ghedina won the first race, the Austrian Andreas Schifferer imposed himself a day later on a very demanding track. The most extraordinary story that got to me while watching this World Cup was fortuitously also the most interesting. Ever since he retired from racing in March 2006, Schifferer no longer tops the headlines. Although, one could go as far as saying that he has totally disappeared from the public eye!
Until this year in Sölden, the venue where in October, this year’s World Cup season kicked off, the news that Andreas Schifferer had to leave this little cosmopolitan Austrian village prematurely resounded as a huge surprise. The boy had arrived at the weekend, but that seemingly didn’t work out as that same boy stole the snowboard he had used to compete. Obviously he didn’t have his stealing skills well honed, as the stealth bore all the marks of the amateur thief. A shortcoming that landed him straight into the hands of the Austrian constabulary force, which is known to be pretty unforgiving in this type of instances. Even with eight times world cup Champions.
What in the world went through Andy’s head that day? He probably doesn’t have a clue himself. But according to some insiders, his erratic behaviour began showing when he started collaborating with Martin Weber, a man known for practicing esoteric, hypnosis as well as other disputable techniques.
At some point, it got him so confused that he left his wife and kids, and asked his sponsor Atomic to devise a pair of skis for him that would slide on the nose, stating proper energy flow as the reason behind the request. Upon this, Atomic immediately terminated the contract with the now suspicious skier, who resumed his antics at team Rossignol, claiming a use of “negative” colours. As a result, his career suddenly grinded to a halt.
Incidentally, the infamous German newspaper Bild had recently sent a journalist to interview Weber in order to investigate his genuinity, but he quickly gave up fearing for his own mental well being, as he commented to the editor upon his return. Still the real motive for Shifferer’s action is yet to come to light. Why he stole the snowboard remains to this day a mystery, especially when one considers that his financial situation at the time appeared to be in the positive? He could easily have purchased one. Or could it be that the colour was so damn positive that the esoteric/hypnotic state he was in left him with no other choice but to acquire it there and then? Although not on his credit Card…

Original text by Urban Lavrenčič translated from the Slovene by Christian Ngalikpima.

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The Men behind the Skis!

Posted by Urban Laurenčič under Uncategorized
Dec 2, 2010

Edi Unterberger (pics by temperbox.at)

Edi Unterberger (pics by temperbox.at)

For every action, you can expect a reaction. After Head brought in their team the Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal, it left his serviceman at Atomic, Edi Unterberger, without employer. A true a master in his profession, he saw enormous success with Hermann Maier. He later briefly acted as Walchhofer Michael’s serviceman. As Atomic saw a brighter future with Svindal, the team designated Unterberger as serviceman for last year’s two times winner in the aggregate standings at the Norwegian World Cup. Remember, it was with his help that Svindal brought home the full scope of awards in the Vancouver Olympics. He then went on to join Head. For a hefty sum of money, at that!
Michael Walchhofer begins, this year, his final World Cup Season. In the previous season, the 35-year-old hotelier from Altenmarkt came short of bringing home more than a single win. He must have missed his former serviceman. After leaving Svindal, Walchhofer immediately went on to resume his cooperation with the now team-less Unterberger. Atomic welcomed the move, and as history shows, have hit the bull’s eye.
Walchhofer convincingly won the first downhill race of the season in Lake Louise, effectively ending the Austrian team poor string of performances. Indeed the team hadn’t won the main discipline since March 2009. A winning drought for Austria, the most powerful skiing nation in the world that lasted 630 days!
At the finish, the winner of 16th edition of the skiing World Cup looked at his ski and immediately pointed out in his first interview the fact that they were “unusually” fast. Indeed, Walchhofer enjoyed a clear advantage over his competitors in the flatter part of the Lake Louise racecourse, where good gliding is of the essence, and where the skis must be fast.
He thanked his serviceman, sipped ale and then went on to prepare for the super-G, which was on the program the next day. Brimming with self-confidence, he decided to take fairly aggressive skis to the giant slalom, despite conflicting advice from Unterberger. He finished 18th and later admitted that he will in the future listen more to the “man in the background”.
In a week time, men and women competitors will travel to the United States and Canada. The women were moved from Aspen to Lake Louise, where they will compete at the weekend in both speed events. This will be the first opportunity this season for Lindsey Vonn to prove that she still is the alpine skiing champion. Men were flown from the Canadian province of Alberta over to Denver and from there, forward on to Vail, more specifically on to Beaver Creek, where the Birds of Prey racecourse awaits them. This competition will host three races from Friday to Sunday, with the exciting downhill scheduled for the Friday. Walchhofer will again be present and so will his red and white rockets.

Original text by Urban Laurenčič translated from the Slovene by Christian Ngalikpima.

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