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FIS Alpine World Ski Cup Bansko 2009 LIVE
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 . world ski news
22 January 2009 - 12:35
Fresh snow cancels first training run of Hahnenkamm-Race, Experience brings rewards
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The course, the new start house and the slick new Rolex timing system were all ready for downhill training to commence and then the heavens opened and fresh snow arrived. After 28 days of perfect conditions for preparing the greatest downhill race, today’s weather compromised the safety of the racers and thus the decision was made to cancel the 1st downhill training. Originally the start time had been brought forward to ten o’clock to try and beat the weather but it was not meant to be.


Heavy snow bars access to course for downhill training Photo by: Rolex / Daniel Forster


The Course Crew hard at work preparing the Streif Photo by: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo


Start Referee Fips Pischl prepares the starting gate at the top of the Streif Photo by: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo

This year sees some new exciting innovations on the start hut: It has a new fascia that gives the crowd and TV viewers greater visibility of the racers as they prepare to leave the start. Technical wizardry has also been developed to give viewers better knowledge as to when the racer has actually broken the wand to start the clock. Green LED lights on the start posts through which the racer goes will flash indicating that the clock has started.


Ambiance in Kitzbuehel continues in spite of Downhill Training cancellations Photo by: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo

Kitzbuehel is alive and the anticipation for the great race is evident. Training may have been cancelled for the day but the atmosphere is unique: This is Kitzbuehel!

Experience brings rewards: Skiing smarter to go faster!

When a downhill racer leaves the start hut in a race, he has only had a limited number of runs in his career down the course. A technical skier can train down slopes and different combinations of turns as much as he wishes yet the speed skiers must have the course closed off for safety reasons. This is not always easy to do away from a race weekend. Learning the slope and giving the course the respect it craves is something that takes time. Like a good whisky that needs time to mature, downhill racers get better with age!

There are currently three racers that stand out for their longevity on the World Cup downhill tour. When he won the Super G in Kitzbuehel in 2008, Marco Buechel from Liechtenstein extended his record as the oldest winner of a World Cup race. Rolex Testimonee Hermann Maier became the second oldest race winner when he stood on the top step of the podium in Lake Louise in December 2008, again in Super G. While both Maier and Buechel are in their late thirties, Sweden’s Patrik Jaerbyn is still posting fast times and placing on the podium as he approaches his fortieth birthday! Buechel may be the oldest winner however, with his podium in Val Gardena in December 2008, Jaerbyn became the oldest competitor to make the podium in a World Cup ski race of all time. And as long as he stays fit, the Swede is looking to take part in the 2010 Olympics as well.

So while the young racers may have youth in their legs and bodies, the older skiers can potentially ski smarter to go faster. With every run down the great downhill slopes of the World Cup, racers learn more about the slope, the bumps, the terrain and the atmosphere. Marco Buechel explains that in the speed events “experience is a great advantage: Before you come to the courses like Kitzbuehel, you already know all about the turns; there are slight changes in the turns and the slopes but basically you know how to ski it. You know how to handle it.” Yet Buechel also reflects that technical events are a “disadvantage for the 37-year old skier!”

Staying at the top of the field in ski racing for so long is not easy. Buechel looks back at his career and says that when he started racing “they were taking the winner’s picture and doing the interviews after number 15 maybe 20, then in 2000 it was after number 30, now it is after number 50!” The standard for the racers competing on the World Cup in 2009 is greater than ever.

When attending a race for the first time, the less experienced racers have to learn the slope and they have to respect it. After the race in 2008, the racers asked the organisers to ensure that the forerunners were of a high enough standard. Following a high profile media campaign, seven racers from across Austria and Switzerland varying in age from 20 to 24 will undertake the forerunner duties this year. They all talk of “respect for the course.” Yet they all admire the old racers that “have the courage” to still attack the course. This was how Hermann Maier raced his way into the attention of the Austrian team coaches.

As Buechel calmly sits, proudly wearing his Rolex timepiece on his wrist, you can feel the warmth he feels for Kitzbuehel. “This was my first World Cup downhill race,” he states. “In 1999 I came as a spectator as I did not think that I would ever race it.” Ten years later Buechel has his own Gondola for winning the Super G in 2008 yet still the heart craves more: Like Maier who has never finished below second in the Super G, Buechel still pushes himself farther. “There are three Gondolas from Liechtenstein,” he explains, “myself, Paul Frommelt and Andi Wenzel. But none of them ever won the downhill!” This is what Buechel wants.

As the new racers spend time learning about the course, the older racer is able to spend the training runs fine-tuning his equipment. Maier will look at the set up of his Head skis while Buechel looks at the set up of his Lange boots. Both racers use the same equipment in boots and skis yet they have distinctively different ways that they approach training and the race. Maier has learnt from experience to adjust the set up of his skis, take the angle of his edges for instance. For Buechel he will change the set up of his boots: “When I first started downhill I would have one pair of boots and twenty pairs of skis to use. Now I have thirty pairs of skis yet four pairs of boots,” he explains. This is something that comes from experience.

When Buechel first came to Kitzbuehel to race he was sad that he could not go out and enjoy the atmosphere “but after I got second in downhill and first in Super G, I found out that celebrating after the race is more than enough. I would rather stay calm, ski well and get celebrated because that is something you will never forget in your life and it gives you so much. I do not want to go out during the week but I want to go out Saturday and party for my success, my hopeful success!” he explains. While there are young racers coming through and winning World Cup races in recent times, experienced racers are still fast and winning and it seems you cannot beat experience. Knowing the course and understanding the lie of the land all comes from experience, yet the final word goes to Marco Buechel: “The real King of Kitzbuehel is the Downhill winner!”

January 20, 2009
www.hahnenkammnews.com
Hahnenkamm-Race
Kitzbuehel, Austria
January 23 - 25, 2009


 
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Next:
Walchhofer sets fastest time in opening training run at Hahnenkamm-Race – 22 January 2009 - 12:38
Miller wins final training in Kitz – 23 January 2009 - 11:20
An amazing day 1 for the Nissan Russian Adventure 2009 in Sochi – 23 January 2009 - 13:53
From broken hand to Victory on the Hahnenkamm: Kroell takes win in SG – 23 January 2009 - 13:55
Half-pipe gold to Liu (CHN) and Aono (JPN) – 23 January 2009 - 18:37

Previous:
Hermann Maier: The clock ticks on to Gold Time – 22 January 2009 - 12:33
World Cup Ski Cross competition in Lake Placid – 21 January 2009 - 23:19
Fraenzi Maegert-Kohli and Benjamin Karl secure world snowboard titles in parallel slalom – 21 January 2009 - 13:58
Kreiner and Anderson take PGS gold in Korea – 20 January 2009 - 14:14
'Hexenabfahrt' - downhill of the witches – 19 January 2009 - 11:13

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