The HEAD Racing Team is heading into the Olympic winter 2009/2010 with a prominent new member, a lot of self-confidence and the prospect of great success. The women’s team especially is poised for victory – with twice World Champion and Overall World Cup winner Lindsey Vonn from the USA having joined the team. However, it is not Vonn alone who is considered a sure bet for victory this coming winter.
Her change of equipment provider came as a real bombshell: Lindsey Vonn, the world’s most successful female ski racer at the end of last season, is going to hunt for gold on HEAD skis as from this winter. The HEAD Racing Team was highly successful even before Vonn joined the team: Maria Riesch and Anja Pärson won the Crystal Globes in Slalom and Super Combined last year, and Riesch also won World Championship gold in Slalom. Both want to follow Vonn as winner of the Overall World Cup this winter. The HEAD Racing Team is thus getting ready for an exciting competition between the three ladies that will be governed by athletic fairness. “Now we all have the same equipment, so there will be no excuses – for none of us“, Riesch comments on the new situation and adds: “Probably this won’t be bad after all ...”
The chances of the other ladies on the HEAD Racing Team are by no means “bad at all” either. Elisabeth Görgl will of course again be one of the favourites when the World Cup starts in Sölden on October 24th. After several successful individual races she wants to win a Crystal Globe herself – and in Giant Slalom the odds are excellent for her. Another contender for victories is Slalom ace Šárka Záhrobská who is also expected to score at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. And then there are Anna Fenninger, Fanny Chmelar and Karen Putzer who have good chances of achieving excellent results.
Similar to the ladies’ team, the male HEAD Racing Team can also count on excellent skiers; even though legendary skier Hermann Maier will not score any more victories on HEAD skis: The 54 times World Cup winner and winner of several gold medals in World Championships and Olympic Games finally decided to end his spectacularly impressive career in October. Now, Super-G World Champion and winner of the Giant Slalom World Cup Didier Cuche will lead a squad of stars dedicated to success – right from the first race. “You have to prepare mentally for the Olympic Games – but in terms of physical fitness you have to be good right from the beginning. Otherwise you will lack the sense of achievement and only ponder about what is going wrong”, says Cuche. In addition to the Swiss athlete, who is, of course, again going for the big Crystal Globe, the limelight will also be on superstar Bode Miller. The American is expected to make his comeback at this season’s first Slalom in Levi. Victories are all that count for the twice Overall World Cup winner, no matter the discipline. Last year, Miller surprised everybody with his excellent slalom start – probably the Finnish venue will again be a good starting point for the season. “I would like to act at my highest athletic level“, Miller announced – and that’s quite a promise to all the ski sport aficionados!
Rainer Schönfelder invested a vast amount of planning in the meticulous preparation for his comeback after the long break he had to take because of his injury. His motto this year is “Back to the best!” The HEAD racer dedicated a lot to achieving his goal; may his efforts be crowned by top rankings in the World Cup. The Austrian skier will not only go for the technical disciplines, but also for the speed competitions. “Who knows … perhaps people will one day say ‘What? Schönfelder used to compete in slalom? Isn’t he a downhiller?’ …”, he muses. Anyway, together with Sweden’s slalom ace Markus Larsson Schönfelder will certainly shine in the technical disciplines, too.
Apart from Cuche and Miller, Hans Grugger and Andreas Buder are also expected to reach top ranks in the speed competitions. Both have overcome injuries and are now ready to show their class again by securing more victories and top ranks. Five-times World Cup winner Christoph Gruber and Hans Olsson from Sweden aim for places on the winners’ rostrum in Downhill and Super G. And then there are the old hands of course, Marco Büchel and Ambrosi Hoffmann, who are also still able to score.
All the HEAD racers together form a highly promising team. Nobody can predict how many victories, places on the winner’s rostrum, Crystal Globes and Olympic medals the HEAD Racing Team will win – but the starting basis has virtually never been better!