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.