The World Championships for 2011 in Garmisch Partenkirchen have come and gone and one thing stands out in my mind. Gold! 5 HEAD athletes took home the first place hardware further cementing Head as the top brand in World Cup ski racing.
Lizz Goergl stood up to the counter and dominated the speed races with a gold in Super G on opening day, gold in the Downhill and she also won the downhill section of the Super Combined in which Anna Fenninger took the gold.
The HEAD men brought home the gold medals as well. Aksel Lund Svindal proved what an incredible all round skier he is in the Super Combined and then who can forget the determination that Ted Ligety demonstrated to come from 4th after the first run to win the gold in the Giant Slalom.
Five Gold medals only tell half the HEAD story at the World Championships. The brutal conditions that met the racers for the first race of the 2011 World Alpine Ski Championships really separated the elite athletes from the rest. The ice, the bumps and the light all gave the racers plenty to think about. Another reason the right equipment is a necessity to put you on the podium. All the talk leading up to the races was the duel between two other members of the Speedoholics Team: World Cup Overall leader Maria Riesch and the leader in the World Cup Super G and Downhill disciplines Lindsey Vonn. Lizz Goergl did not read the script and tore in to the course to win the GOLD and while Riesch won the bronze for HEAD as well, Vonn placed 7th. This was a near perfect start for HEAD. Things would get even better!
Bode Miller had split times at numerous different races leading up to the World Championships showing that Bode Miller would be a serious contender in the races. Miller was the first of the HEAD racers to attack the Super G race and had in not been for a mistake off the steep near the bottom, Miller would have taken the lead and perhaps increased the team medal count.
Saturday dawned with huge hopes for the HEAD racers: Cuche, Miller, Svindal, Heel and Olsson were all hoping to put down the run that would lift them to the medal positions. While the final training run had been cancelled due to the weather changing and making the snow grippier, the bumps were still expected to cause problems. Cuche, having won down the infamous Hahnenkamm, was expected to make this the crowing achievement of his career. In the end as he made his way down the Kandahar slope, he drifted in and out of the lead and then a slight error heading to the finish. By the line he was in second and silver. This was still a delight for the figurehead of the HEAD Speedoholics on the day. Miller and Svindal suffered due to the weather warming the slope up and slowing things down. But still this was another medal for the growing confidence in the HEAD camp.
When the women returned to the Kandahar for the downhill on Sunday, nobody could settle the discussion as to who would win the Women’s race. You had to go back to 2009 for the last time another brand had won the women’s Downhill. In that time span it was 10 wins for Lindsey Vonn and 5 for Maria Riesch, the rest were fighting for breadcrumbs. Yet no one had told Lizz Goergl that this was the script. Goergl had won the Downhill section of the Super Combined and already had the Super G safely tucked up in her room.
Hard work pays off and it was not just a win for Lizz Goergl, but silver for Lindsey Vonn and bronze for Maria Riesch. This was a first for women’s World Championship downhill ski racing: All three podium winners were HEAD skiers. For Vonn this was her first medal of the Championships that had been blighted by her injury prior to arriving in Garmisch and for Maria Riesch this was a medal for her fans and the support she had been given while suffering from a fever since the start of the race week.
With three wins in the first three Giant Slalom races of the World Cup season, Ted Ligety was the outstanding talent leading into the technical events. Yet it was Aksel Lund Svindal who stole the show on the first run t grab the lead, Ligety was fourth and Didier Cuche was fifth. Could the men provide another clean sweep for team HEAD?
Cuche was unable to replicate his first run and then Ligety came down and produced a devastating run to take the lead. Would it be enough or would those ahead of him be able to better his combined time? By the time Svindal left the start gate it was Ligety or him for the Gold. Sadly for Aksel his run took him into fourth to give HEAD three in the top five, Ligety added World Champion to his Olympic gold.
With ten individual events at the 2011 Garmisch Partenkirchen World Championships, HEAD have five GOLD medals, two silvers and three bronze medals. Ten medals and they also provided the skis for some of the French, Austrian and Swedish teams in the Team race!
Not a bad couple of weeks! Please visit head.com for more information, articles, athlete profiles and much more.