WORLD CUP SÖLDEN: THE PODIUM IS THE GOAL!
Fischer will be going into Saturday's race with some of the most promising candidates for a top placing. Niki Hosp (AUT) will be competing for the first time in a race with the full Fischer package. And she feels confident. "I finally want to pick up from where I left off with successes in the past. And it's looking good," says Hosp. Tanja Poutiainen (FIN) is another top racer who has some ambitious goals for this season, too. "My goal is always to finish among the top three in every race and I'll be aiming for a podium finish in Sölden as well," says Poutiainen, already looking forward to the first race. She continues: "We've done enough training now, it's time for the season to begin!"
Depauli on "home ground"
Highly promising young racing talent Jessica Depauli (AUT) takes a similar view of things. She is about to start out in what will be her first complete World Cup season. As far as the Kirchberg-based racer is concerned, Sölden has come at just the right time. "I more or less grew up on steep and difficult slopes like this. My training slope at home is similar and I've skied a lot on it, so it's my kind of hill. Having said that, the next two days of training will now be important for me because I want to make sure that I get the set-up just right. After that, bring on the race!"
Men's team headed by Kostelić
World Cup winner Ivica Kostelić also feels comfortable on the challenging terrain, despite having undergone knee surgery in spring. "We haven't been able to train as we usually would but I feel fine and am looking forward to the season getting underway. The first race is very important for the following ones. Then I will know where I stand and see what areas I still have to work on. I will certainly be satisfied if I finish among the top 20 in the first Giant Slalom!"
Richard aiming for full victory this time
The French team, with top racers Cyprien Richard and Thomas Fanara, has not trained on the race slope. Instead, both of them carried out their preparations on the glacier in Tignes (FRA). Richard, who worked hard on modifying his technique in summer, wants to put his all into Sölden again. "I simply want to ski as fast as I can. Because then I will know that I'm really good. Besides, Sölden is all about a fight to the end." In the previous year's race, Richard's first World Cup victory was put on hold with him leading after the first run and the race then being cancelled. In Adelboden (SUI), however, he went on to fulfil his dream. This time round he hopes he will be able to score some points in the very first race of the season.
Cool rookies: Vincent Kriechmayr in Sölden
The Austrian team will be fielding some young and hungry racers again. One of them is Vincent Kriechmayr. Both the 20-year-old and Stephan Görgl were successful against tough competition in the internal qualification races. He feels quite laid-back about his fourth World Cup race. "Of course it's cool to be taking part. But it doesn't make me feel especially nervous. I'll risk everything I have, the only way is an all-out attack!" His strong performance in the qualifiers came as something of a surprise to the young racer from Upper Austria: "Things didn't really go to plan in the preparations. It wasn't until we had the races against the clock that everything fell into place. But I know I'm the type of person who can really step up another gear when it starts to get serious!"
Giant Slalom ace Kathrin Hölzl misses out
Despite the strength of the team it is not all sweetness and light for Siegi Voglreiter. "We will have to do without one of the best Giant Slalom athletes. Unfortunately Kathrin Hölzl is not fit enough to return to racing again yet. But she will try to get back on her skis to train in the near furture again." In addition to this, Switzerland's Marc Gini had to have knee surgery and will not be back until January at the earliest.
Further Fischer athletes on the start in Sölden are Marion Bertrand (FRA), Lena Dürr (GER), Simona Hösl (GER), Veronique Hronek (GER), Denise Karbon (ITA), Barbara Wirth (GER), Tommy Ford (USA), Thomas Frey (FRA), Colby Granstrom (USA), Tim Jitloff (USA), Manfred Mölgg (ITA), Kalle Palander (FIN), Francois Place (FRA), Dalibor Samsal (CRO), Marcus Sandell (FIN).