There's been a lot positives turning up for the German squad over the past few seasons, whether from the lanky Daniel Bohnacker and his show-stopping technique or from Andreas Schauer's powerful style and leadership, but 25-year-old Paul Eckert's emergence as one of the top talents on the Audi ski cross World Cup tour last season has to be one of the most exciting developments for the team in recent memory.
Eckert made his World Cup debut in 2010/11, and through the first five seasons of his career there wasn't much to suggest he would take a place among the elites of the sport as he annually found himself finishing somewhere in the 30's on the year-end standings.
Last season something seemed to click for the understated skier, however, and after an unfortunate DNF at the first event of 2015/16 in Nakiska, Eckert battled to put together one of the most consistent and determined efforts of the year.
From Nakiska on, Eckert notched seven top-10s through the remaining 10 races, including the first two podiums of his career, ending the season finished fourth-overall and leading his German compatriots to their strongest World Cup team finish in recent memory.
And perhaps the most impressive performance of Eckert's season came at the Kreischberg 2015 Freestyle World Ski Championships. While he finished the event in heartbreaking fashion - in fourth place - he did so by the barest of margins in a monstrous big final that included 2011/12 crystal globe winner Filip Flisar (SLO), 2013/14 crystal globe winner Victor Oehling Norberg (SWE), and 2013 world champion, 2014 Olympic champion, and 2014/15 crystal globe winner Jean Frederic Chapuis.
Truly, if there are three ski crossers that there's no shame in losing to, it would be those three, and on that day in February Eckert proved he could hang with the big dogs on the Audi ski cross World Cup.
|1609625.01.2014||Ski Cross||Kreischberg||AUT||World Cup||11||240.00|
|1608817.01.2014||Ski Cross||Val Thorens||FRA||World Cup||44||17.30|
|1608716.01.2014||Ski Cross||Val Thorens||FRA||World Cup||16||150.00|
|1608615.01.2014||Ski Cross||Val Thorens||FRA||Qualification||25||3.00|
|1606222.12.2013||Ski Cross||Innichen/San Candido||ITA||World Cup||52||14.90|
|1606121.12.2013||Ski Cross||Innichen/San Candido||ITA||World Cup||41||18.20|
|1606020.12.2013||Ski Cross||Innichen/San Candido||ITA||Qualification||41||0.91|
|1605515.12.2013||Ski Cross||Val Thorens||FRA||World Cup||18||130.00|
|1605414.12.2013||Ski Cross||Val Thorens||FRA||Qualification||4||25.00|
|1604707.12.2013||Ski Cross||Nakiska||CAN||World Cup||43||17.60|