Sölden, 26 October 2007: This weekend the Ski World Cup season 2007/08 makes its traditional start in Sölden. The team that the Austrian sporting goods manufacturer HEAD is starting with is without doubt the strongest in the company’s history. The expectations and goals are also very high for this year’s winter after an extremely successful season in 2006/ 07. We completed our HEAD Racing-Team with Hermann Maier’s spectacular move. “It is our declared goal to play a decisive role in the battle for the Overall World Cup,” explained Rainer Salzgeber, Race Director at HEAD about the starting position.
The HEAD Racing-Team, based on the three musketeers Maier, Miller and Cuche, can keep up with the competition without a doubt. These three figureheads alone have guaranteed numerous successes and titles over the past few years. Young athletes such as the Austrian Anna Fenninger, who already showed what they can do last year, complete the HEAD Racing-Team, along with Marco Büchel, Patrick Staudacher and Šárka Záhrobská. The logical consequence and realistic target can only be winning the Overall World Cup, provided, of course, that the season is free of bad luck with injuries.
“We give the highest priority to top class sport as the motor of innovation and as our calling card. We draw on the experience of our athletes in the further development of our materials. This year we used perfect test conditions abroad (Chile, New Zealand) and on the European glaciers to find the best possible coordination between skier and materials. We now only have to continue this momentum into the World Cup season”, Klaus Hotter, Division Manager Wintersport, is convinced.
HEAD is racing without team orders
The dynamism in the HEAD Racing-Team can be clearly felt. Despite this team spirit racing skiing is still a discipline for individualists and lone warriors. The large support staff around the professional athletes at HEAD guarantees individual service. “Every one of our athletes can and wants to win, of course. There are no team orders. The only thing our skiers have in common is our materials. Individual coordination is done by working together with our personal service technicians”, according to Rainer Salzgeber.
The title aspirants for the Overall World Cup at HEAD are Hermann Maier, Bode Miller and Didier Cuche, along with strong competitors from other racing teams. Their fighting spirit pushes them to the highest performance levels. All three athletes have found equally perfect conditions for the battle for the title.
As many World Cup wins as possible and ideally a small crystal ball are the goals defined for the Women’s Team for this year’s World Cup season. The HEAD Racing-Team has potential winners in the shape of Maria Riesch, Šárka Záhrobská, Elisabeth Görgl and Anna Fenninger.
Motivation from the World Cup Season 2006/07
The last World Cup season 2006/07 gave impetus for new efforts in the coming season. “We already showed last season that we can offer our skiers a set-up and material that is geared to victory”, Salzgeber is convinced.
The final classifications of last year’s World Cup confirm the success of the work at HEAD. In the downhill as well as in the Super-G World Cup the HEAD racers were the dominant athletes in the field. Didier Cuche and Marco Büchel in the downhill and Bode Miller and Didier Cuche once again, who had one of his best seasons at HEAD in 2006/07, took places 1 and 2 respectively. Šárka Záhrobská completed the line up with third place in the slalom World Cup making these World Cup results a clear challenge to the opposition.
The World Championship in Aare in 2007 was no less successful. Two World Championships from Šárka Záhrobská in the slalom and Patrick Staudacher in the Super-G, as well as the bronze medal for Didier Cuche in the giant slalom, underlined once more that the materials and the whole HEAD Racing-Team are world class.
48 Top Ten places in the downhill and in the Super-G prove HEAD’s performance in the speed disciplines. Skiers and materials stand for the highest demands and performance. Didier Cuche, Bode Miller, Marco Büchel and Johann Grugger stood at the top of the podium seven times in total. Maria Riesch and Karen Putzer once each.
From the race course to piste
The new World Cup line has been aligned as closely to the performance of the HEAD race prototypes as is responsibly possible. A total of seven different ski models bear the signature of the professionals. In this way hobby skiers can also profit from professional technical know how.
Bode Miller’s first choice is the Worldcup I. GS RD, which offers extreme edge hold and stability at high speeds. The Worldcup I. SL RD behaves somewhat differently and has been designed according to the FIS Slalom standard, with grip and agility like no other slalom ski before.
The whole HEAD Racing-Team was involved in the development of the I. Supershape Speed. At its heart lie the successful INTELLIGENCE and LIQUIDMETAL technologies which helped Miller and Cuche to victory in 2006 in their first year after changing to HEAD.
The racing boot is the perfect supplement to such successful ski models. The Raptor Tuning Concept uses feedback from the HEAD Racing-Teams to produce an ingenious combination of precise customising processes. A reduced, narrow profile in the last provides more control. An anatomically formed toe-box gives more sensitivity.
The whole package from HEAD has been perfected with the new racing binding model FREEFLEX PRO which has been redesigned due to changes in the FIS regulations (reduction of the binding height by 5 millimetres from 55mm to 50 mm). This has resulted in marked performance improvements for the skier. Increased stability as well as more direct power transfer to the ski will cause the total times in this year’s World Cup circus to tumble. Tyrolia has invested about € 1.9m in the last 18 months in the development of the new HEAD bindings.
The HEAD World Cup line and the Raptor Tuning Concept ensure a significant jump in performance. With the Racing 2007+ products the young HEAD Tyrolia racers ski not only in the tracks of Didier Cuche and Bode Miller but also in those of all skiers and speed freaks.
HEAD with great momentum in the market
Last year the whole market for alpine equipment declined by about 25% worldwide due to the lack of snow in the winter of the 2006/07 season.
In Austria, the most important market, HEAD was nevertheless able to build up its market share from 14% in the previous year to 17%. The reasons for this were a focus on top class sport as the driver for the Group as well as for the final consumer.
The extremely cautious pre-orders made by specialist retailers in the alpine ski sector conceal further potential which HEAD wants to tap in the coming season, above all through signing Hermann Maier and the resulting euphoria from the fans.
Working together against climate change – COOL EARTH
HEAD is the first sports goods manufacturer to put responsibility for its CO2 emissions high up on its list of priorities. The CEO of HEAD N.V, Johan Eliasch, has founded Cool Earth together with Frank Field. In a partnership with Cool Earth, which began in August 2007, HEAD offsets ten times its annual CO2 emissions. HEAD is going to protect over 28 km2 of rain forest per year from clearance and destruction – that is the equivalent of over 100,000 tennis courts or over 3,600 FIFA-sized football pitches.
“With this strategic partnership with Cool Earth we want to make sports fans aware of the dramatic increase in CO2 emissions”, explains Eliasch on the motivation for HEAD N.V.’s commitment. “We are all dependent on a stable climate to ski, play tennis or dive. If we don’t wake up and make a difference now we won’t be doing these things in their natural environments much longer,” added Eliasch.
Media contact: Markus Hämmerle
Brand Director HEAD Sport AG
T +43 (0)5574/608-350
Photo database: The photo material is available on 26 October from about 9:00 pm.