The 2010 – 2011 FIS Alpine World Cup season promises to be the most successful season for HEAD. In the 2009 – 10 season HEAD racers won an incredible 23 World Cup races, more than any other ski manufacturer and this year the team has been strengthened: Aksel Lund Svindal, Ted Ligety, Kjetil Jansrud and Werner Heel have all joined the successful Austrian ski brand. Alongside the 23 World Cup wins, 11 medals were won at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010, meaning the team have set a benchmark for the World Championships in Garmisch according to Rainer Salzgeber, HEAD’s Racing Team Manager.
The HEAD speed team has been reinforced by the arrival of Norwegian multiple World Champion, World Cup winner and Olympic Games medal winner Aksel Lund Svindal and Italian World Cup race winner Werner Heel. These two charismatic Speedoholics join Didier Cuche and Bode Miller in the speed events. With Miller, Cuche and Svindal expected to be fighting it out for the season long Titles, Werner Heel has his sights set on Kitzbuehel and Wengen as well as the World Championships.
The multi talented Men’s speed team have a lot to live up to this year and have spent the summer preparing in many different ways for the challenges that lay ahead this winter. For 28 year old Italian Werner Heel, this summer has been much the same as previous years yet the work he has done has been more intense. His move on to HEAD equipment has made him excited yet curious for the season to start. As a keen mountain biker, Heel has been using this a lot for his summer training yet during his snow training he has been working on stabilization as he got to learn about his new equipment. “I feel happy and positive about the new, huge HEAD team - in my opinion it is very important for the future development of our products,” explained Werner.
While the weather did not help with Ted Ligety’s summer training, he still feels that his skiing has “progressed.” As the defending World Cup Giant Slalom Champion, Ted is looking to “also be part of the Overall race, so I'll need to get my slalom back and continue to progress in speed,” he explained.
Kjetil Jansrud burst to prominence at the end of last season in Kranjska Gora in taking a second and third in the two Giant Slaloms and then went on to take the Silver in the Olympics. Kjetil is excited for the new season as he sees “the HEAD team has made a pair of skis that has been fantastic from the start. And pulling out the main quality of the skis doesn’t really tell you anything, as it has loads of good qualities. But let’s put it this way: along with the minor adjustments we have made with the already fantastic skis HEAD had this spring, we now have the best skis: in every way.”
Maybe the best reflection on last year comes from Maria Riesch: “Last season was fabulous and will be hard to top, but I don't feel too much pressure, because everything I already won, nobody can take that away from me anymore. But of course, it's my aim to keep up this level.“ And it is with this in mind that over the course of the summer, the HEAD racers have been talking with each other and working out the best set up for the skis.
With his eye for detail well known, Bode Miller is excited “to see Aksel, Kjetil and Ted especially ski Giant Slalom on the new HEAD skis.” With HEAD now having a group of talented athletes capable of winning in each discipline, does he discuss ski set up with the other HEAD family racers? “Yes, I think that's one of the big advantages - we have a lot of information that allows us to make sure we're on the best set ups,” he replies.
Aksel Lund Svindal is hungry for success and his link up with the HEAD brand is proof of this. Aksel likes “to get feedback from other racers and see what they think. And have them listen to my ideas and see if they have any input. This is important to always move forward, “ he explained after spending the summer training in New Zealand.
This feeling is echoed by Ted Ligety: “I've talked a lot with Aksel, Kjetil and Bode about our HEAD ski set ups. We all have different styles and input so it really helps to have diverse ideas to optimize our set ups. I feel like it’s always good to hear your main competitors’ thoughts on skiing and equipment.” And how does he feel for the new season? “I'm excited to start racing. The HEADs feel awesome and it's cool to have a ridiculously talented team of skiers to help develop the best equipment, which is super important.”
Even the girls are benefitting from the cooperation between the athletes. Lindsey Vonn explained that “it will be really cool to have so many more HEAD team mates to cheer for and share ideas with. It's going to be very good for HEAD in general to have so many top racers designing and developing the equipment. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved, very exciting!”
And the last word on ski set up is from Kjetil Jansrud: “I spend lots of time with Aksel discussing the HEAD set up. This year I have also had the pleasure of spending time with Ted Ligety. We usually agree on the big stuff, but we are different on the minor details, which is brilliant. As discussing the minor details is what might take you from a 5th to a 1st place. And hopefully our set up talks will yield results for all of us!” Kjetil ends by saying “we now have the best skis: in every way.”
With a World Championship title to defend, Didier Cuche knows that this season will be a challenge with so many great racers on HEAD. The downhill will be tough he feels with Aksel Lund Svindal, Bode Miller and Werner Heel on HEAD as well.
And so to the new season! Bode Miller is looking to win across all four main disciplines this season after and with Rainer Schoenfelder returning to his Slalom roots, the super strong HEAD Men’s team are looking for a success laden season across the board.
Asked if the success that HEAD have achieved in the last few years in the speed events was a major factor in Aksel Lund Svindal joining the brand, the 27 year old Norwegian replied: “Yes, speed skis are hard to test except in World Cup races. HEAD‘s track record there made it easy to believe, I didn’t need a lot of testing and I could focus on Giant Slalom and Super G. “ For Aksel, the Crystal Globe is always the biggest achievement in a season.
A lot has happened since his unfortunate series of injuries, in terms of the direction of training - will Rainer Schoenfelder be concentrating on the slalom, where he won Olympic silver in 2006 and World Championship silver in 2005 or will he be a multi event racer again? “At the moment I can say that I have to be happy if I can do one discipline, and that’s enough for my leg and my body! So I train slalom, that’s where I come from...” he explained.
Last season was a season to savour for the HEAD girls. Lindsey Vonn is now looking to add a fourth Overall Title to her burgeoning trophy cabinet and Maria Riesch will be looking to add to her own trophy cabinet. Both Speedoholics will be challenged all the way by Lizz Goergl, who will be focusing on the Giant Slalom this season. With multiple medal winners, Sweden’s Anja Paerson and The Czech Republic’s Sarka Zahrobska also enjoying their racing on HEAD, it is not just the men that are looking to come out on top!
For Lizz Goergl the joy of winning two bronze medals at the Vancouver Olympics and a World Cup race win meant last season was a successful season. But Lizz is not content to sit on her laurels, a summer of hard work both on the skis and getting super fit has followed as she looks to make the next step and add to her successes.
Maria Riesch has had a healthy summer and her training has left her with “a good feeling” on her skis. For Maria the forthcoming season has a special focus with the World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and she knows it would “be a dream for me to win a medal in my home town World Championship.”
After eleven wins last season alone and a third Overall crown, 26 year old Lindsey Vonn has spent the summer recharging her batteries and getting ready for the new season. An induction into the Austrian Street of Fame as well as numerous media dates on both sides of America has meant she had time for “lots of little nagging injuries that needed to heal up, so I took a longer break then usual this spring to heal and recharge. Once I was feeling good again my summer training turned very intense. “ And as for her main goal for the winter: “That is a tough question, I think staying healthy always comes first, but the World Championships and winning a 4th Overall title are both very high on the list.“
With 41 World Cup race wins behind her, Anja Paerson used her experience to spend her summer doing more Dryland training. From there it was off to New Zealand to do “a lot of free skiing drills and basic position training. Finally in a course I felt really good and improving my technique a lot.” But what is the 29 year old Swedish racer’s main goal for the winter? “My goal this season is to try to win a lot. Focus more on races where I know I can ski well and try to make less mistakes than last year, no more “big air" jumps!” After the excitement of the 2010 Olympics, is the thrill of the sport still as high for her? “After taking a break this spring to find out if I wanted to race again this season I needed only one thing to get me going again. FUN!! Skiing is the best thing I know and I want to do it hopefully a few more years!”
One year on from joining the HEAD family, what advice can Lindsey Vonn offer the new stars in the family? “The advice I would give the new stars in the HEAD family is make sure you are prepared for the new attention you are about to receive, because you are about to have the best season of your life!“
Welcome to the HEAD Racing Team – The Speedoholics!