The HEAD athletes once again proved what an outstanding team they are and conquered numerous victories, podium places and top ranks in the 2008/2009 World Cup season. The most visible signs of success are the two World Champion titles of Didier Cuche in Super-G and Maria Riesch in Slalom. These two trophies were even capped by the three small crystal globes presented at the end of the season to Maria Riesch for her success in Slalom, to Anja Pärson for winning the Super Combined and to Didier Cuche for Giant Slalom.
Once again Swiss Didier Cuche demonstrated that he is one of the fastest ski racers in the world. In this winter season that has just come to an end, he made the headlines not only at the Alpine Skiing World Championships in Val d’Isère where he won two medals, one of them in gold for Super-G, but also in the World Cup where he beat his competitors time and again. In Giant Slalom, the athlete from Switzerland was the best racer in the world – one victory and three more podium finishes speak for themselves. The reward for his outstanding performance was the small crystal globe in the Giant Slalom discipline. In addition, the HEAD racer scored one podium place both in Downhill and Super-G. Finally Cuche finished third in the Overall World Cup for the third time in a row.
Austrian Hermann Maier, too, showed off his class in his prime discipline, the Super-G. At the beginning of the season, the ‘Herminator’ won the race in Lake Louise, celebrating his 54th World Cup victory, followed by a second place in Beaver Creek. He remained one of the top contestants for the Super-G crystal globe until the very last race.
US athlete Bode Miller demonstrated some attractive performance this season in Slalom. In Levi, right at the beginning of the season, the HEAD racer finished second. He scored two more podium places in Downhill, the last one at the classic Wengen race in the middle of January. Last year’s Overall World Cup winner had to struggle with a stubborn injury of the syndesmosis ligament throughout the entire season which finally made him terminate his World Cup season after the World Championships in Val d’Isère.
HEAD has a powerful speed team – a fact proven by some other racers in addition to Cuche, Maier and Miller who reached top ranks in this year’s races. Ambrosi Hoffmann, for example, was among the best in the traditional World Cup event in Kitzbühel, where he finished third in the Super-G. And in Wengen he was very close to third place again but had to contend himself with fourth place. Marco Büchel showed off his racing qualities in Beaver Creek where he came in second. And there was also a young HEAD racer from Sweden that drew people’s attention in a speed discipline: Hans Olsson – brother of freeskiing superstar Jon Olsson - raced to podium places both at the beginning of the season in Lake Louise and at the end of the season in Åre. Two third places in addition show that Olsson is one of white hopes on the HEAD team for the upcoming World Cup seasons.
Maria Riesch was the dominating lady on the HEAD team. The 24-year-old HEAD racer won five World Cup races this season in total, four in Slalom and one in the Super Combined. It was a great winter for the German athlete who stood out head and shoulders between the poles. In addition to her title of World Champion in Slalom, she was constantly among the best throughout the entire season and saw the finishing line in all nine Slalom races. Her worst result was a sixth place in Aspen (USA). She had really deserved the small crystal globe that she received after the World Cup finals in Åre. With her ten podium finishes and many top ten results, the German athlete finished second in the Overall World Cup ranking and will certainly head for the big crystal globe again next season.
And there was another female HEAD racer who brought a small crystal globe back home: With her victory in the Super Combined ranking new HEAD team member Anja Pärson proved that she is good for a victory in all disciplines. Pärson laid the base for her World Cup success in the Super Combined race at St. Moritz in December. Showing off her speed qualities, she also won the Downhill in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee.
Slalom seems to have been the favourite discipline of the female HEAD racers this season. With her third place in the final Slalom, Sarka Zahrobska finished second in this discipline’s standing behind Riesch. So the ladies on the HEAD team scored a double in this technical competition. They had already done this before: after her Slalom World Champion title in 2007 Sarka made it to the World Championships silver medal in Val d’Isère this year leaving the gold medal for her team mate Maria Riesch. In addition to that Czech athlete Zahrobska won her first World Cup race this year in Aspen and reached the podium two more times.
Another great performer this last season was Elisabeth Görgl. In Giant Slalom in particular, the Austrian was incredibly consistent. She finished three times on the podium which earned her the fourth place in the Giant Slalom ranking. But Görgl also won a bronze medal in the Super Combined race of the World Championships at Val d’Isère and scored some more top ten World Cup results in Downhill, Super-G and the Super Combined.
The season ended with a bang when Fanny Chmelar raced to the podium in the final World Cup event in Åre – the first World Cup podium ever for the 23 year old athlete from Germany! This should provide enough boost for the upcoming Olympic season 2009/2010. Anna Fenniger, another young racer, skied to success on her HEAD skis. In the Super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo she made it to the podium for the first time in her young career. In the World Championships, the young Austrian narrowly missed the podium by one rank in this discipline.
All in all, it was a very successful season for the HEAD ladies, reflected by the FIS brand ranking (ladies), where HEAD came in first. HEAD was also the best brand in the ladies’ Slalom and Super Combined disciplines ranking. Ideal conditions to head into the next winter and prepare for Olympic gold.