A SEASON OF SETBACKS
Six victories during the season, 14 podium finishes in total, one crystal globe and two further top-three placings in the discipline World Cup. A successful racing season at first glance, but when you take a closer look, it was one marred with setbacks.
The series of misfortune began at the World Cup opener in Sölden where Kalle Palander (FIN) suffered yet another injury after his comeback season. He was then followed by Marc Gini (SUI) and Julien Cousineau (CAN) who, like him, found themselves in hospital due to a knee injury. Unlucky Stephan Görgl (AUT) had spine surgery twice while Steven Nyman (USA) was out of action with a torn Achilles tendon.
But doesn't every cloud have a silver lining? Not only silver, it can also be crystal. And Fischer had good reason to be particularly pleased about this in what was a difficult season. Ivica Kostelić fought to the very end of the season despite having knee surgery and subsequent back trouble. The unique fighting spirit of the Croatian hero paid off. Despite his health problems Kostelić won the Super Combined World Cup in impressive style and only just missed out on the globe for the Slalom World Cup title.
Kostelić, who led the overall World Cup for some time, had to have knee surgery after his victory in Sochi (RUS) which meant three weeks of therapy and no skiing. His return to the pistes proved to be more arduous than expected. Weakened both physically and mentally, the six-times season winner was unfortunately unable to maintain the prowess he had demonstrated in Slalom and was forced to settle for second place behind Andre Myhrer (SWE). However, what this sportsman showed throughout the past season was a truly remarkable achievement, despite the outcome. "What Kostelić did this season is simply incredible. Any other athlete would have no doubt taken things easy and written off the season after such an injury. Kostelić on the other hand had a heart and battled on. And that is what makes him strong. Even if it was regrettably not enough at the end for his goal of winning the Slalom World Cup, he can be proud of himself," says Racing Director Siegi Voglreiter, happy to have this top athlete in his team.
Tanja Poutiainen (FIN) and Nici Hosp (AUT) unfortunately fell somewhat short of expectations. Having said that, they each made it to the podium twice which was a boost for the team. The Finnish racer was certainly dogged by bad luck. Just as the popular skier was about to reach peak performance, the weather reared its ugly head. This was the case in Soldeu (AND) for example, where the 32-year-old was in a comfortable lead but was forced to ski out due to extremely difficult wind conditions.
Some of our young talents put in some above-average performances. Lena Dürr, the 20-year-old from Germany, is one of them. She drew attention to herself with four top-ten finishes and some best times in races and will also be a hot tip for the future. Tommy Ford, a 23-year-old US American, also went from strength to strength in winter. Tommy finished among the best 30 seven times in Giant Slalom, his favourite discipline.
Katy Hölzl remains the one skier who is giving us real cause for concern. The future of the German racer, who has not been able to ski competitively since 12 January 2011, is uncertain. Her physical problems are so bad that she has to undergo frequent tests and therapy. None of the specialists, however, have the answer and cannot find what is causing her severe, cramp-like pains in her back and other parts of her body.