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 . world ski news
10 December 2010 - 15:30
Maier aims for Pole position in Alpine Skiing
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On Dec. 7 Hermann Maier celebrated his 38th birthday in an unusual far place – Capetown, South Africa. A few days earlier, the Austrian ski legend who retired last year had left his nice house at the shore of the Atersee, his friends and family for quite an extraordinary expedition which perfectly suits his love for thrilling challenges – a ski to the South Pole.

Maier was never likely to take things easy in retirement so it comes as no surprise that, after a career spent racing downhill at high speed, the former ‘Herminator’ is on his way to that very hostile destination.

"It's a pretty exciting and unique adventure; it's also a great opportunity for me to do something really special and unforgettable," said Maier prior leaving Europe.

The Austrian, who won four Alpine ski World Cup overall titles and five gold medals at Olympics and world championships, will begin his demanding ski tour around Christmas after two weeks of hard training nearby a Russian base of Novo in Antarctica. From there he will begin the trek to the Pole as part of a four-man Austrian team.

They will compete against a German team in an event being organised by Austrian national broadcaster ORF and Germany's ZDF and timed to mark the 100th anniversary of Norwegian Roald Amundsen becoming the first man to reach the South Pole.
"It's called the Race to the South Pole yet I don't see it as a competition, it's more an exploration and a formidable challenge," said Maier. "It's something amazing, it may never happen again. How many people nowadays have a chance to reach the South Pole by ski?"

Team race

Maier will team up with another top Austrian athlete, triathlon specialist Tom Walek, who is 38 and a radio reporter on ORF. On the German side, triathlete Joey Kelly will be joined by television commentator Markus Lanz. Both teams have been supplemented by two more people chosen from 9,600 candidates who put themselves forward for a series of tests in August and September.

A 25-person crew, including a doctor and an Antarctic specialist, will follow the two teams with special "snowcars" and record their efforts for a series of television shows to be aired sometime next year.

The British agency Extreme World Races, which is in charge of logistics, expects that, with good weather, the trip should take 16 days. Departure from the base camp is scheduled around December 25 with the teams due to arrive at the South Pole around January 9.

Maier and his partners will travel for some 16 hours a day on special touring skis, pulling a heavy sled laden with food and equipment including a large tent.

They will ski an estimated distance of 400 km in total, at an average altitude of 3,000 metres, often in strong winds.

Maier is confident

Maier's public relations adviser, Walter Delle Karth, is confident about the physical and mental shape of his charge. "Since his retirement, Hermann has been looking for something special like this," said the former spokesman of the Austrian Ski Team.

"He is definitely in good shape and he will be working out hard for this. He took special care of his resistance strength in the past months. As you know, he has always been very strong-minded and focussed when it really mattered."

A former ski instructor and bricklayer before dominating ski racing for nearly a decade, Maier had a horrific motorcycle accident in August 2001, nearly losing a leg. He recovered and returned to racing, racking up a total of 54 wins in World Cup events before retiring a year ago.

Maier, too, is confident about his new adventure. "I know my body pretty well and I'm aware of what it needs to be in perfect shape," he explained last fall. "I spent a lot of time this summer on my bike and I swam a lot too. I'm looking forward for that unusual adventure. I hope it will not be too cold.”

“I heard that temperatures can drop as low as -69° C, which is really cold. Normally it should be around -35° to -40°, which is acceptable for that region. I already raced in Canada or Norway [in] similar conditions – but in alpine ski racing, you are never too far from a warm and cozy restaurant or coffee-shop. It will not be the case down there – I don’t think we will be able to warm up a lot in our small tent. Our main problem there could be the wind.”

In the days prior is journey to South Africa, Hermann - known as a perfectionist for excellence - spent much time testing various kinds of waxes that he plans to use on his touring skis to ride as smoothly as possible during those difficult two weeks in Antarctica.

Maier on Albrecht

The racer from Flachau (southeast of Salzburg) also spent some time in front of his TV set and was very happy to watch Daniel Albrecht’s great comeback at Beaver Creek. “It was wonderful to see the big smile on his face after his race at Beaver Creek, he must have been so happy to be finally able to do what he likes to most – to race,” Maier told his friend Marcel Perren. “It’s a great feeling. I could tell you a lot about it."

In January 2003, Maier achieved for himself a fantastic comeback in Switzerland and Austria, winning the fifth competition he entered that month – the Super-G at Kitzbühel a year and six months after his gruelling motorcycle accident.

“I can imagine that Daniel could also be fighting soon for a top-position in the coming weeks," Maier said. "He is a great talent."

By Patrick Lang
FISalpine.com
Friday 10 December 2010


 
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Next:
Ladies super G today cancelled – 11 December 2010 - 15:39
Ligety charges to another victory – 11 December 2010 - 15:51
Alexey Poltaranin notches surprising victory in Davos – 11 December 2010 - 17:24
Ski Jumping Cancellation on Saturday due to strong winds – 11 December 2010 - 19:48
U.S. freestyle skiers take top spots at Ruka World Cup Opening – 11 December 2010 - 20:00

Previous:
The field of possible winners - Audi FIS Ski World Cup returning to Europe – 09 December 2010 - 14:45
Bulgarian Alexandra Jekova with bronze in second snowboard cross held in Lech am Arlberg – 08 December 2010 - 16:13
Dominique Maltais and Nate Holland claim victory at snowboard cross season opener in Lech – 08 December 2010 - 08:59
Beaver Creek downhill rescheduled to Kvitfjell – 07 December 2010 - 08:44
Ligety lands huge win at home in Beaver Creek – 05 December 2010 - 22:26

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