Austrian ski team hopes for return to Olympic glory

Posted By: The Ski Channel on February 21, 2010 10:04 am

While the Terminator arrived from the future, the Austrian ski team wishes the Heminator could travel from the past. Legendary Austrian skier Hermann Maier in his prime could indeed help salvage a disappointing 2010 Olympics for the traditional alpine-skiing power.

Maier retired at the age of 36 last fall and the next generation of Austrian skiers has not lived up his legacy during the games. At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy, Austrians won 14 medals, far ahead of the second-best country, Sweden, with only four. In 10 out of 17 Winter Olympics coming into this one, Austria was on top or tied for the top of the alpine medal standings.

By contrast, halfway through the 2010 Olympic alpine schedule, the nation in the heart of the Alps could claim only two medals. In the women’s super-G Saturday, Andrea Fischbacher started to appease Austrians’ high expectations with a gold medal. Elisabeth Georgl’s bronze in the women’s downhill was the country’s only other medal.

Meanwhile, the United States, a country that hosts only one men’s and one women’s World Cup race each year, has dominated with seven medals. In the technical events still-to-come, slalom and giant slalom, Austrians can pin their hopes on several athletes for a revival. A number of Austrians are near the top of the World Cup standings in those events. Marcel HIrscher, Benjamin Raich and Reinfried Herbst on the men’s side, plus Kathrin Zettel and Marlies Schild for the women, could be names to watch in the coming week.

(Photo courtesy of Ski Austria/Erich Spiess)