HEAD World Cup Rebels - the race for crystal and precious metals begins!

As is tradition, the new season of the Alpine Ski World Cup opens on the 17th and 18th of October with the men's and women's Giant Slalom events in Sölden. Due to Corona, however, it will be an exceptional winter. A total of 39 men's and 35 women's events are scheduled, headlined by the World Championship in Cortina d'Ampezzo in February. The HEAD World Cup Rebels want to show right from the start that the path to victory can again only lead through them this season.


Double victory for Alexis Pinturault and Mathieu Faivre, fourth place for Tommy Ford, fifth place for Ted Ligety. This dazzling result demonstrated the strength of the HEAD World Cup Rebels at the opening in Sölden last year. "Celebrating a double victory last season of course places Alexis Pinturault and Mathieu Faivre among the big favourites this year," says HEAD Racing Director Rainer Salzgeber. "Pinturault is fit and on top form, and the comparisons with other athletes also make me feel very positive. Faivre is also looking good. Tommy Ford has problems with his back, but we are hoping things will work out by the time the season starts. The athletes from the USA have had particularly challenging training conditions due to Corona. They might need a few more days to adjust to the snow in Sölden."


Pinturault: "I haven't skied very often so far this year"


"I'm feeling really good. But I haven't skied very often so far this year, so it's possible that I won't yet be 100 percent fit in Sölden. We've decided to go ahead anyway, because we have plenty of time after Sölden. Of course I want to ski as fast as I can for the opening, and I will do my very best", explains Alexis Pinturault. "There were many things about training in summer that were different from usual, but it still went very well. It wasn't so bad after all that we didn't have to travel to the Southern Hemisphere."


Faivre: "In Sölden I just want to ski well"


His team-mate Mathieu Faivre says about the opening race: "I feel very well and am looking forward to the new season, although I'm a bit nervous because I haven't competed in a race for eight months. Apart from missing the training camp in Ushuaia, I was able to complete most of my normal training program over the summer. In Sölden I just want to ski well, and see how that turns out."


Wendy Holdener - HEAD's best Giant Slalom athlete


Franziska Gritsch from Austria finished in seventh place in the women's event in Sölden, followed by Lara Gut-Behrami from Switzerland in eighth place. "Throughout the season, our best athlete in the Giant Slalom was Wendy Holdener. Following her injury, it could still be a close call for her starting in Sölden. I am hoping that local hero Franziska Gritsch can continue her performance from last year. I am not expecting the same level from the women as from the men, but I am expecting them to notch up one or two good results too," emphasises Rainer Salzgeber.


Holdener: "It is still unclear whether I will be competing in Sölden"


"I'm feeling okay so far. My doctor and physiotherapist are very satisfied with my progress. I am not in pain and so things are looking good. But a fracture, like any injury, requires patience," says Wendy Holdener. "Summer training was good. It was different from previous years because we only trained in Zermatt and Saas-Fee and did not fly abroad. I'm not thinking ahead to Sölden just yet, because it's not clear if I'll actually be competing."


Alexis PinturaultAlexis Pinturault
Wendy HoldenerWendy Holdener

Gritsch: "Starting the season at home is always something special"


"I'm really looking forward to starting the season on my local slopes because it's always something special. I simply want to show what I can do and follow up on my performance from last year in Sölden", says Franziska Gritsch. "I feel fit and ready for the new season. My summer training went very well, both in terms of fitness and on skis. Even though there were no training camps overseas, we took advantage of the perfect conditions here and were able to develop several stages further."


An exceptional season due to Corona


Even though the World Cup will see its traditional opening in Sölden as in previous years, this will still be an exceptional season. Due to Corona, the races in Sölden will be held without spectators for the first time. "We are going to start by opening the season in the normal way. Of course there are special measures in place, such as negative corona tests that must not be more than 72 hours old. This will certainly be a challenge for all of us, but we will manage," says Rainer Salzgeber. "The fact that there are going to be no spectators will certainly make Sölden special. The crowd can spur you on, but for most athletes it is not likely to be a problem. The surroundings are also very different this year, the Rettenbach Glacier will only be open for the World Cup races this time."


Overall World Cup as goal for Alexis Pinturault


Last season Alexis Pinturault just missed bagging the Crystal Globe by a narrow margin. "The overall World Cup has to be the goal for Alexis Pinturault and also for us. Last year we were so close, and I hope this year we will nail it. However, our primary goal is to be able to hold all the events and enjoy a semi-normal season. That would do a lot of good for all of us," says Rainer Salzgeber. Alexis Pinturault says about his goals this season: "I want to win as many races as possible so that I am in the running for the Crystal Globe. And I want to be successful in the World Championship. These are my two main objectives. Due to the Corona situation a lot can happen, though, and there is a risk of my plans being disrupted." The French athlete made skiing history last year by winning the World Cup in the Combined event for the sixth time. 


Beat Feuz, Matthias Mayer and Vincent Kriechmayr in the race for Crystal Globes in the speed disciplines


Beat Feuz's performance in the Downhill was also outstanding last season. The Swiss athlete bagged his third Crystal Globe for the Downhill. "The consistency of Beat Feuz's skiing was awesome. Together with Matthias Mayer and Vincent Kriechmayr, our goal has to be winning the Crystal Globes in the Downhill and Super-G," emphasises Rainer Salzgeber. "In the Slalom, I'll be looking out for our newcomer, Timon Haugan. He has already stood on the podium and could now take the next step towards becoming a World Champion. A good season could also be on the cards for Albert Popov. He's made some changes and is now training on his own. Atle Lie McGrath can compete in any discipline thanks to his success in the European Cup. I am really hoping that he will find his way to the top in the World Cup."


Corinne Suter - proven results in the speed disciplines


The fastest woman in the previous World Cup season was undoubtedly Corinne Suter. The Swiss athlete won the Crystal Globes in the Downhill and the Super-G. "She will of course be competing for the Crystal Globes in the speed disciplines again. Lara Gut also demonstrated with her double victory last season that she is a force to be reckoned with. She has worked hard on her preparations. Nina Ortlieb from Austria is also a strong winner. She is aiming to attain a very high level," says Rainer Salzgeber. "In the technical disciplines, Wendy Holdener is strong in the Slalom and Giant Slalom. Anna Swenn-Larsson delivers enormous potential in the Slalom thanks to her speed. Bernadette Schild is also an athlete to look out for now she has recovered from her injury. As far as the overall World Cup is concerned, Holdener will compete in three disciplines. She is capable of achieving a great deal. Lara Gut is also in the same calibre, despite the racing calendar favouring the technical disciplines this season."

Vincent KriechmayerVincent Kriechmayer
Matthias MayerMatthias Mayer
Kjetil JansrudKjetil Jansrud