The Insider by Olsson - Winning against all odds

21 January 2013 20:43
Hirscher Overall Winner
Hirscher Overall Winner -

Alpine skiing is one of the most, if not the most, complex sport in the world. To be successful in this sport you need to have it all – a strong mentality, a very all-round physic and a perfect equipment setup. We are racing down steep and big mountains, at high speeds, through the most challenging courses and yet it all comes downs to a few hundreds of a second. This is a sport with very small margins; there is no room for mistakes, faults or other events that could slow you down. You need to be at your very best at the very moment you push out of that start gate, because if your not, someone else will be.

Now, in a sport where obviously everything needs to be in a perfect place in order for one to be able to perform…how is it possible to achieve that perfection? 

Innerhofer won Beaver Creek and Wengen, with more or less no pre-season training due to a severe back pain problem. 

Kroell finished third in Lake Louise, fourth in Bormio and now second in Wengen with a pre-season of only a couple of weeks, due to a broken ankle. 

Janka won the Overall World cup in 2010 with a virus in is body, and then went on to win the Kranjska Gora Giant Slalom just a couple of weeks after heart surgery. 

Svindal came back to win the Overall World Cup in 2009, one year after his life threatening crash in Beaver Creek. 

Neureuther won the Wengen slalom, after having a pre-season filled with back problems and less training than another year in his career. 

Hirscher won the Overall World Cup in 2012 after coming back from an injury just the year before. 

Feuz finished second in the Overall World Cup in 2012 after suffering from a knee injury through both the entire pre-season and race season. 

There are of course a lot more examples of this "phenomenon" and from my own experience, I (Hans Olsson) had my best season and finished third in the Lake Louise Downhill race in 2009 and third at the Åre World Cup Finals after only getting only three proper Downhill training runs during the entire preseason due to back pain. 

I could go on forever with the examples… but these are only a few cases of ski racers performing at their absolute max, after having what on paper would looks like an absolutely horrible preparation.

Winning against all odds is something that sometimes happens within the world of sport, but in ski racing it seems to be an always-returning matter. 

WHY is that? 

Now, If you ask a ski racer who just won a race, what he did to go that fast, the answer you would most likely get is: “I have no idea, I just tried to go as fast as I could!” 

It’s obvious that when you ski fast, you ski on instinct and not on a fully active mind that thinks of what to do when and where. So, having some kind of event that disturbs your normal preparation can often be good. To have something which takes your normal thinking off your mind and makes you act and ski purely on instinct. So from now on, when you hear someone having trouble in training or preparation, watch out, he or she may just come back and be on fire!