Winter 2013
Escarpment Magazine
The Hahnenkamm is regarded as the most physically
and mentally demanding race on the downhill skiing world cup cir-
cuit. A victory is a badge of honor to even the most seasoned and
decorated racer. What was going through your mind while you were
standing in the starting gate?
Behind the start, while I’d be preparing for my turn to race,
I’d think about a lot of things. And there would be a lot of things I
didn’t want to think about that kept appearing in my mind as well.
But when I’d finally slide into the start gate, I liked to concentrate
on how much fun it’s going to be when I’m standing in the finish!!
I liked to look down to the town (you can actually see the crowd
in the finish area 3,000 vertical feet below from your position in
the start) and I’d tell myself how lucky I was to have the chance to race
on the greatest course in the world!
And because of the Hahnenkahmm, I started this habit of always asking
myself in the start, “Are you afraid of getting hurt today?” As long as I
could honestly say “No”, I felt this ritual gave me the strength to ‘not
give a sh___’ ! Then all I had to do was GO.
You are certainly treated as royalty in Europe. Is it true
that you have your own gondola car at Kitzbühel – commemorating your
win at the Hahnenkamm?
Darn right - it’s car number 7. I get people all the time who are
visiting Kitzbuhel, and they send me a picture standing in front of my
gondola! It’s pretty cool. I think it’s a wonderful way to recog-
nize the Hahnekahmm Champions over the years, espe-
cially in a place like Kitzbuhel where skiing is so
important. In Kitzbuhel, racing dates back to the 1800’s,
international races documented since 1931 andWorld
Cup racing began in 1967. There’s no where else I’d
rather have my own gondola. One of the reasons I
keep going back to Kitzbuhel is to make sure my
name is still there.
Your career ended abruptly
with a horrific crash that still is played on
sports highlight reels today. What do you
remember about the accident and your
It took me about a year and a half
to feel like I was back to full health. I had a se-
vere concussion, a torn up knee and I lost the
sight in my right eye for a couple months. I slept
for three months barely waking up to eat. Dur-
ing my convalescence, I had my third recon-
structive surgery to repair my left knee. I was sore all over for quite a
while. I don’t remember too much from that day or that week but I’ve
obviously seen that crash many times over. Thank God it was on tape!!!
It would have been a real waste to crash like that and not have it
recorded to verify that it actually happened!!
You are regarded as the best downhill ski race analyst
in the business, due to your relaxed, knowledgeable commentary as well
as your familiarity with the athletes. Which athlete(s) on today’s stage is
a standout in your mind?
My first year of working as a commentator was during the
1988OlympicWinter Games in Calgary, and I’ve been at it ever since,
through 7 World Championships and 5 Olympic Games. It’s hard for
me to believe how many individual careers I have watched and the
great competitors I have followed that raced, won and retired dur-
ing that time. For sure, Lindsey Vonn’s dominance of women’s rac-
ing is historic in a lot of ways. It will be exciting to see howmuch
she wins this season. On the men’s circuit, with the retirement
of Didier Cuche, a lot has changed. Young racers and new
names have broken through like Austrian, Marcel Hirscher.
American, Ted Ligety is the standout in GS. He just crushed
the field in the first race of the season. I really like Ted, not
just as a great racer, but a real industry contributor. He’s in-
volved in the development of our skis and boots and he’s had
the same kind of impact on advancing ski technique that Sten-
mark, Girardelli, or Zurbriggen had in their time. Along with our
Canadian Team leader Erik Guay, I’ve enjoyed watching stories like
Ben Thomsen unfold. He’s an “against all odds” success. A guy that
almost everyone had given up on, dropped from the Provincial Team,
worked construction to pay his own way, persevered on his own and
fought his way to an opportunity with the National Team. Then hit the
podium at the pre-Olympic race last year in Sochi, Russia. Now he’s
basically on the short list of favourites for an Olympic medal at the
2014 Olympic Games!! Fun stuff.
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