2012/13 - The season of the records.
There are many different ways and variables to point out all-time greatness in major individual sports. In golf or tennis the numbers of so-called ‘Grand Slam’ victories are crucial to discuss the name of the ‘champion of champions’ like USA’s Jack Nicklaus, Steffi Graf or Switzerland’s Roger Federer.
In other athletic sports the amount of Olympic medals or records set during a career helps to make a difference between great athletes and true ‘legends’ having left a big mark on their discipline at the end of their activity. Olympic titles or FIS medals too could be significant criteria in ski racing especially when they were clinched over a longer period or in multiple disciplines as France’s Jean Claude Killy at Grenoble 1968 or Toni Sailer in 1956 at Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Andre Kjetil Aamodt’s total of twenty medals collected between 1991 and 2006 at major events remains the most prestigious mark to beat in men’s ski racing yet the now legendary Norwegian is also celebrated by on-site experts for having excelled in all modern alpine disciplines during his fabulous career to clinch multiple crystal globes including the biggest one in 1994.
His pal Lasse Kjus set an unprecedented record at Vail in 1999 capturing a medal in each of the five competitions he entered in Colorado including two golden one in Super-G and giant slalom while Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86 victories in slalom and giant slalom celebrated between 1974 and 1989 remains to most impressive statistic on the men’s World Cup tour.
On the women’s side, a small group of top athletes are undisputed landmarks in modern ski racing’s history – starting with Austria’s skiing legend Annemarie Moser-Proell, winner of 62 events in all ‘classic’ alpine disciplines from 1970 to 1980. The skier from Kleinarl, south of Salzburg, has been incredibly dominant in downhill during her era winning 36 of them in total – and she certainly would have gotten closer to the mark of 100 World Cup victories if Super-G or Super-combined would had already been included in her program in the first years of World Cup ski racing.
18 podiums for Wenzel and Wiberg.
Since the introduction of those recent disciplines in the international calendars in 1983 and in 2005, a handful of established women have set the pace at the highest level, starting with Austria’s Petra Kronberger, Sweden’s Pernilla Wiberg, Croatia’s Janica Kostelic, Sweden’s Anja Paerson and USA’s Lindsey Vonn, the defending overall champion.
Not only they enjoyed victories in all disciplines – sometimes during the same season as Kostelic did it during her last impressive 2005/06 winter - but they also amassed plenty of podium finishes during their victorious campaign, with a maximum of 18 celebrated by Wiberg in 1997 – as much as Hanni Wenzel from Liechtenstein in 1980, before the introduction of Super-G!
This winter, Slovenia’s superstar Tin Maze has a real chance to beat and improve that mark after having excelled in all disciplines in the past months, including in Munich’s ‘City Event’ on January 1st! She may equal it at Moscow this week. With a total of seven victories until Maribor’s exciting slalom, Maze still has a chance to match Vreni Schneider’s record of fourteen season wins in 1988/89 – yet all of them in the technical events.
At that point, Tina’s total amount of podium finishes should get more consideration since it’s quite a stressful burden to start in all races with a strong chance to win them. From Cortina d’Ampezzo to Maribor, Maze has achieved quite an amazing and certainly unique series of four consecutive top-3 finishes in all four alpine specialties within eight days - in downhill, Super-G, giant slalom and slalom!
2000 points for Hermann Maier in March 2000.
Breaking Hermann Maier’s record of impressive 2000 points established by the four-time overall World Cup champion at Bormio in March 2000 would strongly reinforce Tina’s chances for ‘all-time greatness’ within a season if she keeps on performing at that level. The Slovenian said at Maribor that it would now be a very motivating goal for her after clinching her first crystal globe in giant slalom on Saturday and winning her first Super-G race at St. Anton early January.
At the end of last winter, Vonn was quite upset and disappointed to have failed to bet that mark during the Finals at Schladming after losing a pole at the start of the second giant slalom run – her last race of the winter! At least, the skier from Vail still improved by ten points the women record set by Kostelic in 2006 in scoring a total of 1980 points.
This winter, the 29-year-old speed specialist remains in the hunt for Moser-Proell’s record of 62 wins after capturing the recent giant slalom race at Maribor finishing a few hundredths of a second ahead of Tina Maze. As she plans to end her racing career in 2015 after the FIS Worlds at Vail/Beaver Creek, Vonn can still aim collecting a total of six overall titles as Annemarie before retiring. “I surely wish to leave my mark on women ski racing and this record would mean a lot to me, yet for the moment I rather focus on the next major event, Schladming 2013,” she told the press at Maribor.
The thrilling performances of these two attractive and determined young women strongly boost the interest of the women’s World Cup tour which is particularly exciting to follow for fans and TV viewers from all over the world… They also deserve much credit for this!