Four juniors to watch in 2016
Marcel Hirscher, Lindsey Vonn, Kjetil Jansrud, Anna Fenninger, Aksel Lund Svindal, Lara Gut, are considered “top athletes”. They are masters of their discipline, break all kinds of records, are admired by ski fans, recognized by the general public and are desired by sponsors. But before getting there, they had to be incredibly dedicated and determined for the long climb to the top.
Many other athletes are just beginning their climb to greatness. There are the rising stars that already showed promising results and earned World Cup Points (Henrick Kristoffersen, 1994, NOR / Roland Leitinger, 1991, AUT / Siebenhofer Ramona, 1991, AUT / Lena Duerr, 1991, GER / Romane Miradoli, 1994, FRA). And there are talented juniors (age group 1994 and younger last season) that will appear on World Cup lists in a near future.
By looking at last year’s results, we identified four highly promising juniors that certainly have the potential to emerge on the international stage and maybe become ski stars themselves:
Holtmann Mina Fuerst, 1995, NOR
The 20 year-old from Baerums (next to Oslo) had a fantastic 2014/15 season. She won three medals at the Junior World Championships in Hafjell (gold in downhill, silver in Super G and bronze in Alpine Combined), became Norwegian Champion in super G and in downhill, ended eighth in the Europa Cup super G standings and sixth in the downhill standings, while the better-ranked ladies had an average age of 24. But Holtmann also showed promising results in technical disciplines. She began the 2015/16 season with two victories on the Australian New Zealand Cup, in slalom and giant slalom. The Norwegian has had only one World Cup start so far. It was last season, for a super G in St.Moritz, and she fnished 29th. We might see her again in St.Moritz this season for the Finals, or even next season for the World Championships.
Truppe Katharina, 1996, AUT
Truppe is not even 20, and already was second in an Europa Cup standings. The skier from St.Veit/Glan (AUT) is a technical specialist. She ended in second place in the Europa Cup slalom standings thanks to a victory in Melchsee-Frutt and five other top 10. slalom finishes.Slalom is also the discipline where she earned her first Junior World Ski Championship Medal. Truppe was the only non-1994 in the Top 5 and won the bronze medal in Hafjell. At the National Championship at the end of last season, only World Cup regular, Carmen Thalmann, beat Truppe in slalom. This season, Truppe already won an Australian New Zealand Cup slalom. In her five World Cup starts, both in slalom and giant slalom, the 19 year-old crossed the finish line only once (Flachau) and didn't qualify for the second run. Let's see if she'll be luckier in the 2015/16 season.
Meillard Loic, 1996, SUI
Remember the name of this young Swiss, because if he keeps up the pace, we'll see him on the World Cup very soon. Besides ending third in the Europa Cup Giant slalom standings, Meillard won three medals at his first Junior World Championships: Gold in Alpine combined, silver in giant slalom and bronze in super G. At the Swiss National Championships, the 19 year-old skier from Hérémence won the title in the Alpine combined, as the Top 10 had an average age of 23 years. The all-rounder already skied in the top five in all the disciplines at FIS level, so he could strike in all the disciplines. Now he is entering the World Cup in giant slalom, with two starts but no qualification for the second run so far. We are looking forward to see how Loïc Meillard will compete at the highest level. He also has a sister, born 1998, who finished sixth in the Junior World Ski Championships in super G and third in the European Youth Olympic Festival in giant slalom.
Marco Schwarz, 1995, AUT
The young Austrian from Bad Kleinkirchheim was Youth Olympic Champion in Innsbruck in 2012 giant slalom and Alpine combined and Junior World Champion in Jasna in 2014 in super G. Last season, he ended in second place in the Junior World Championship slalom, behind Henrick Kristoffersen. In the European Cup, Schwarz won the slalom in Jaun and earned fifth place in the slalom standings behind regulars with average age of 25. The 20 year-old also won the Austrian National Championships in giant slalom. Unlucky in the World Cup so far (seven starts in slalom, no qualification for the second run), the talented Austrian is ready to prove what he is capable of on the international stage.
Of course, the development of an athlete depends on many things (injuries, environment) that it is very difficult to make long term predictions. But we believe that if these athletes keep the same motivation and remain free of injuries, they will have a great career.