5 Things You Should Know About….Werner Heel
By Michael Mastarciyan
Whenever I used to hear the phrase, “The hills are alive...” I used to think of Julie Andrews singing and running around the Austrian Alps in the 1965 film musical The Sound of Music – but that was in my past. These days I’m in what I call my “Post-Werner-Heel-Website-Era.”
I’m guessing you’re a teeny-tiny bit curious about my strange psychological state of mind and how it’s been altered by the website of an Italian alpine ski racing speed specialist. Let me explain.
Mr. Heel’s website (www.wernerheel.com) in case you’ve never paid it a visit, is more of a psychedelic mind altering experience than a world wide web destination. Upon arrival you are given a choice – you can click on a virtual button for “hard facts” about the 29-year-old Sud Tiroler, or if you’re really experimental you click on “crazy animation” and you are swept into a surreal Alice in Wonderland-meets-Willy Wonka-type webvironment with a distinct alpine ski racing flavour.
Once inside “Werner’s Wonderland” (that’s my nickname for his website) you are introduced to an audio-visual feast with roosters on mountain peaks who can throw buzzing hypnosis rays from their eyes, magical talking mountains with alpine fedora hats and big puppy dog eyes who use TV remote controls to turn roosters into grocery store cling-wrap-packaged chicken parts complete with “best price” markdown labels, farting outhouses, trembling vacation caravans, rowboats on geysers, rocking convertible automobiles at drive-in movies with lovers making “whoopee” love sounds, lightning bolts, yodeling mountain goats, pyramids, sharks and rainbows. Frankly the only thing I didn’t see on the site was Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
Werner’s Wonderland has many more tricks and treats and tons of information about Mr. Heel – like where and when his three World Cup speed victories happened. Info about the four other top-3 speed finishes he’s captured (one was a bronze at the Kitzbuehel Hahnenkamm in 2010) and the 18 other top-10 finishes he’s had on the White Circus tour. But I won’t say much more about it as it’s a virtual experience that must be experienced personally – reading about it simply doesn’t do it the justice it deserves.
After you’ve paid it a visit, you will no doubt piece together a little bit about the inner character of the website’s subject and come to the inevitable conclusion that Mr. Heel is still really a kid at heart who sees the world as a magical place. With that said, it should come as no surprise that kids are important to Heelsy (that’s his Canadian nickname) and that’s why he is a UNICEF ambassador who is involved in raising money for the United Nation’s Children’s Fund when he’s not ripping it up on the slopes.
Mr Heel in a comfortable mood. Photo: Mario Curti
So with that said, here’s five more things you should know about the biggest kid racing on the World Cup tour today…
1. Werner’s got a hidden talent – bike repairs!
“I admit I have a hidden talent…I love to tweak my bike. To take care of it, clean it and maintain it. My garage is a like a repair workshop, it's packed with tools. Changing brake pads, tires, adjusting gears etc…is just a little part of my bike passion. I love it and to be honest I'm not unhappy when something breaks, because then I can fix it! It's also lots of fun to ride a self-repaired bike. Maybe some day I will give workshops about repairing bikes"!
2. If Werner could have dinner with anyone alive or dead, it would be….
“There are lots of personalities - but the person I would like to have dinner with most is Dieter Mateschitz. Why him? Because he’s done a really good job in several sport sectors, but not that much in ski sports. I'd like to present him with a project that would revolutionize alpine skiing – a project where you can form professional teams and bring skiing to a different level. A project that would enable television viewers at home to understand what's going on - on the slopes. Using Formula 1 as an example, positioning cameras in amazing ways in order to make people feel the intensity. I'd like to talk to him about that, explain my plan and ask him if he wants to be the main sponsor. And what would be on our dinner menu? An excellent, traditional alpine menu, Knödel would definitely be on it!”
3. Werner’s favourite sport outside of ski racing is…F1!
“Formula 1 is definitely my kind of sport. Ferrari and Red Bull are my favorite teams. Luckily I had the chance to meet Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, and Mark Webber. I even went skiing with Schumi in Sud Tirol and it was a very special experience. You get to know people in a totally different manner than they are presented in the media. I'm fascinated by the sport's modern technology, speed, high tech and innovation. Everything is perfect, the way they are working in the box is amazing, and it’s high standard. I'd love to have this in ski sports, maybe some day it's gonna be like that, not only in Kitzbühel".
4. Werner’s favourite exotic vacation spot is his own backyard – Sud Tirol - or if he gets really wealthy - Space!
“With my job I've had the possibility to travel to a lot of great countries and places. The greatest place? Actually I have the best time at home in Sud Tirol. I've got everything I need, for me it's like paradise. Great climatic conditions, high standard of living, what else do you want? If I was a billionaire I'd be a space tourist. It must be amazing to see our earth from above".
5. What does Werner love most and what are some of the things he dislikes….
“I love my surrounding, because I designed it the way I want it. I hate pushy and persistent people, people that live in the past, wise-guys and above all politicians.”