VIENNA (AP) — Only one skier has won the World Cup circuit this season in Austria’s 24-man squad for the upcoming World Championships.
The star coach left the women’s team in mid-January.
And “crisis” has become a popular word on the sports pages of the ski-mad nation.
Has the once dominating Austrian ‘Wunderteam’ lost its magic?
Led by two-time world champions Vincent Kriechmayr and Katharina Liensberger, Austria won five gold medals at the 2021 World Championships in Italy. And at last year’s Beijing Olympics, China was second only to Switzerland in most ski silverware.
But this time, even the president of the Austrian Ski Federation has lowered his expectations.
“We’re not going to France as the main force,” Roswita Stadlover said this week after the federation announced its squad.
The defending Downhill and Super-G champions head to Courchevel after three recent wins, but he is the only Austrian to win 27 men’s and 28 women’s World Cups this season. am.
Liensberger won the slalom title in 2021 by defeating Mikaela Shiffrin and Petra Vlova, and added an Olympic silver medal the following year. When the federation appointed Livio Magoni as individual coach in April, she seemed poised for the next step in her career.
But the partnership between Tina Maze and the Italians who led them to overall World Cup victories never blossomed. Liensberger said that from 13 starts he had only three top-10 results when Magoni left the job and regretted “not meeting expectations in working with Katarina”. rice field.
Magoni’s arrival was part of an overhaul of the team’s coaching staff. Both the women’s and men’s teams had new head coaches named Thomas Trinker and Marco Pfeiffer respectively, who also replaced guards in his group for most of the training.
Among the upcoming coaches was Alex Hoedlmoser, who spent 25 years with the U.S. ski team and was the women’s head coach during Lindsey Vonn’s most successful years.
At the same time, various Austrian coaches have left the national federation, while celebrating their successes elsewhere.
Christian Mitter is the head coach of the Norwegian men’s team which includes Alexander Aamodt Kilde and Lucas Braathen. His older brother, Mark Mitter, joined Shiffrin’s team. Andreas Puelacher coaches German women. Patrick Rimuru is back as his director of Alpine for the US Ski Team. And Ferdinand Hirscher, father of record-breaking all-around champion Marcel Hirscher, is teaming up with Henrik Kristoffersen.
All changes affected the Austrian team.
“We knew last year that everything had changed. The whole structure was new,” says Liensberger. “We haven’t had anyone yet from the previous year, which makes it difficult to use experience and data from previous seasons.”
Austria’s medal hopes have also been dampened by the absence of Matthias Meyer, the country’s most successful Olympic skier. The three-time gold medalist retired abruptly during his inspection and race on his downhill course at Bormio in December.
But there are also good signs. Daniel Hemetzberger and Cornelia Hütter scored multiple podiums in his speed races, while Manuel Ferrer and Franziska Glitch set the fastest times in recent slaloms.
“In each men’s discipline there are one or two athletes in contention for medals,” said Herbert Mandl, director of Alpine in Austria. “The women’s team is not far off yet, but the speed team has the potential to be on the podium. They have won races in the past and can leave their mark at these world championships.”
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