How Matt found his own World Cup identity in 2016-17

Meet young Michael Matt, not only “Mario Matt’s brother,” but also a hard-working and committed slalom whiz. This season, the Austrian slalom skier established himself as one of the world’s best slalom skiers.

You finished the season with a fifth-place ranking in the World Cup slalom standings with two podiums and a World Cup win in Kranjska Gora. Did you imagine you would reach all this before turning 24, or did this season exceed your expectations?
I knew from the training before the races started that I had the speed to make it in the top spots, but that I am on the podium already at the first race was a surprise. From that race, I learned that the better you focus on your skiing, the faster you are, and that’s what happened in Kranjska Gora. I didn’t expect anything after the first run, I just wanted to be fast. To claim a World Cup victory was just unbelievable.

This first career win at the highest level must be overwhelming. Can you describe your day in Kranjska Gora?
I knew that I could be really fast on this snow conditions, but it takes a lot to win a World Cup race. On that day, I was just feeling good. Like I did in the races before, so nothing special. But when I was waiting on Stefano Gross in the finish area at the end of the second run, and he was losing more and more time skiing down, I thought to myself that I am ready to win the race. This feeling to be on top of the podium is so amazing that I could not get that smile off my face for three days.

Photo by GEPA pictures/ Daniel Goetzhaber

Your season was not only successes. You had a difficult period in January, struggling to qualify and claim top results. How do you explain this decline in momentum?
Exactly. After Levi and Val d’Isère, I didn’t know how to ski any slower. In January, you have many slaloms, which are really tough and steep. As long as the slope and snow conditions were good, I was fast. Before Kitzbuehel, I got sick. It was very unlucky because you have two races in three days, and it is so important to feel on top form when you are at the start. After Kitzbuehel, we analyzed the videos from training and from the races and came to a decision to change the model of the ski. I then skied on my new settings and proved in the second run of Schladming that it was the right decision and a step forward.

At the World Championships in St. Moritz, you were third after the first run but couldn’t hold on to that placement in the second run and claim a medal. Looking back, is it still frustrating, or do you take it as part of the learning process?
I was very disappointed at the World Championships. It took me longer to come to terms with how I skied at that race and see the positives things than it did at any other race because St. Moritz was the first World Championship where I had a realistic chance to claim a medal.

What are your goals for next season? 2017-18 is an Olympic season. How important is that one race in your mind compared to the World Cup season?
For me, the first race of the season is always very important, especially in slalom. It doesn’t matter if it is an Olympic season or a regular World Cup season. It is very important to just focus on every single race, but of course, a medal at the Olympics is big goal for me. At that one race, everyone is risking more than at a World Cup race, you have to be perfectly prepared physically and especially mentally.

The Austrian slalom team is one of the strongest in the world, and there seems to be an excellent spirit with the other young and successful athletes. In what way does it help to train with this team?
We were very lucky that we could already train with my brother, Reinfried Herbst and Benni Raich three years ago. We could learn a lot every training session with them. From that, we now have a really good base in our team like they had. We push each other to ski faster when fighting for the podium, which is important to improve our skiing.

Your brother is one of the most successful slalom skier of all time. Can you benefit from his experience? Is the family history an advantage or does it result in lot of pressure for you?
Of course, it’s good to have a brother who had a successful skiing career. He can see when something isn’t right with my skiing and can give me advice to improve. But of course, I have to feel these things myself and I have to be careful not to listen to someone else, as it is me who is racing. There are, however, factors which do affect me negatively with having successful siblings because of always having the comparison to Mario and the pressure to be as successful. The last season has been very important for me to build up my own identity in the World Cup.

Release from FIS 

Twible hired to coach Ontario Women’s Ski Team

Alpine Ontario Alpin (AOA) hired two FIS coaches to its elite stream programs. Katie Twible, formerly Hartman, will be the new Ontario Ski Team (OST) women’s head coach and Will Gyles will join the Southern Ontario Division Ski Team (SODT) as the women’s head coach.

Twible is originally from Breckenridge, Colo. and started skiing at the young age of 17 months. At age 5, she started racing with the Team Summit Ski Club at Copper Mountain where she remained until FIS. At age 17, she qualified for the U.S. Development Team and later skied for the University of Colorado, where she earned a degree in psychology. Her five-year coaching career includes working for the Aspen Valley Ski Club and most recently three seasons with the Craigleith Ski Club as the U16 head coach. Katie is a DL Certified Coach; she and her husband Cam Twible (former OST head coach, now pilot) live in Collingwood.

“I’m excited to join the Ontario Ski Team and work with the strong coaches that make up Ontario’s elite team,” Twible said. “I know many of the athletes on the team and see tons of talent. It’s my job to help them to become as successful as they can be and I can’t wait to get started.”

Recently appointed OST Program Director & Head Coach Kip Harrington commented, “Katie came to us with a very strong racing background and an obvious competitive fire that was impressive. Her recommendations from Craigleith spoke to her successful tenure at the club, and I look forward to seeing the women’s OST continue to evolve under her lead.”

Gyles is originally from Toronto and is also a lifelong skier who started racing at age 11 with the Jozo Weider Ski Club. He progressed up to the ranks of FIS where he raced for eight years including on the Ontario and Ontario Development Teams. Gyles has been coaching for 10 years, including eight seasons with the Georgian Peaks Ski Club primarily working with K1/U14 athletes. More recently, he spent two seasons with the Men’s Ontario Ski Team as an assistant coach. Over the seasons, Gyles has worked with many successful Ontario athletes including those who have progressed to the national team. His coaching credentials include CSCF Performance Level (Trained), USSA Alpine Level 200, NCCP Level 3 and ACA Level 3 Officials. Will lives in Collingwood.

“I’m excited to continue working with AOA in a head coaching position,” Gyles said. “I know both Taylor and T.E.S really well and think they’ve both made amazing strides with the SODT. I’m looking forward to getting to work and continuing to build this team as a core program towards the OST.”

Harrington is also excited about the SODT hire.

“I’ve coached and worked with Will in the past and shifting him to a head coach position at the SODT level works well as we continue to build this very crucial development program,” Harrington continued. “His time at the OST will be invaluable for the SODT athletes who will be looking to rise through our system and graduate to the provincial level. Katie and Will are both hard working, passionate coaches – we are lucky to have them.”

Release from Alpine Ontario Alpin

Lahdenperae retires after 12 years with Swedish team

After 12 seasons with the Swedish Alpine National Team, Anton Lahdenperae has chosen to retire from alpine ski racing. Lahdenperae has competed on the slalom World Cup since 2005, and has had 98 World Cup starts.

Photo by GEPA pictures/ Franz Pammer

His career best result was a ninth place in the 2006 World Cup slalom at Beaver Creek, Colo. His top World Cup result in 2016-17 was a 14th place in Levi, Finland.

“I did not have the best season, and I feel I do not have the motivation needed to fight my way back to where I want to be,” Lahdenperae said. “There have been several things that have not clicked during the season and when one thing goes wrong, it is easy that there will be more things that will not be good. One thing leads to another, and therefore I choose to quit.”

The weight of the decision has been growing on him, and it was not an easy decision to make.

“Deep down, I probably felt that it was time, but I’ve probably lived a bit in denial period. It’s been such a big part of my life and to take the decision to finish is tough. But now when I made up my mind, it feels very good, although I will miss all the friends on the tour and the community it means to travel around and stay close together in the team.”

The Swedish skier has no definite plans for the future aside from moving back to Gaellivare, Sweden after living in Innsbruck, Austria. While the decision was not the easiest, Lahdenperae looks forward to seeing what the future holds including enjoying the offseason in new ways.

“There are certain seasons that open up now,” he shared. “Autumn has been pretty locked before to pre-season training and all that entails, but now I can do whatever I want then instead. I do not really know what to do with it, but just being able to go on a skiing holiday and travel for pleasure will be fun. That I look forward to.”

Swiss Ski Federation names 2017-18 national team

After a strong World Cup season that included several World Championship medals on home snow, the Swiss Ski Federation has named their team for the 2017-18 ski season.

“I am very pleased with the increase in athletes at the top of the squad, and we must continue to work consistently and continue to build strong teams in all disciplines,” said Alpine Ski Director Stephane Cattin.

She worked alongside the head coaches for men, women and juniors to select the athletes. Skiers like Melanie Meillard, Simone Wild and Neils Hintermann jumped from the B to the A team based on their World Cup finishes this season, while Alpine Combined World Champion Luca Aerni and Mauro Caviezel were promoted from the A team to the national team.

Women’s National Team
Michelle Gisin
Lara Gut
Wendy Holdener
Melanie Meillard
Corinne Suter
Simone Wild

Men’s National Team
Luca Aerni
Mauro Caviezel
Beat Feuz
Niels Hintermann
Carlo Janka
Patrick Kueng
Justin Murisier
Daniel Yule

Women’s A-Team
Charlotte Chable
Denise Feierabend
Jasmine Flury
Joana Haehlen
Priska Nufer

Men’s A-Team
Gino Caviezel
Marc Gisin
Loic Meillard
Thomas Tumier
Sandro Viletta
Ramon Zenhausern

Full list of women’s B- and C-Team athletes is available here.
Full list of men’s B- and C-Team athletes is available here.

7 questions with World Cup star Ilka Stuhec

Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec flew into the spotlight this season with her consistent skiing in the speed events, which put her in contention for the World Cup overall title. That is why FIS wanted to kick off their summer Q&A series with the 26-year-old athlete from Maribor.

You claimed 13 World Cup podiums, scoring a total of 1325 points. In addition, you earned two discipline crystal globes and a World Championship title. How does it feel to look back on such a successful season?
During the season, I never really thought about the numbers, statistics. Also, I didn’t have much time to realize what I did, what the results mean. Now that I look back at it it’s just amazing! The other day, I was placing the globes and other trophies in the showcase at home and it occurred to me that I achieved some big things, and like many times in the past season, I had to cry a little bit again.

Before getting where you are, you had five World Cup seasons with only five top-10 finishes. This season, something triggered and brought you a huge step forward. What was different? What made you so strong and unstoppable?
It was not just one thing that I could point at. For a big step like this, it’s not just one summer. You grow and develop as an athlete for years. All together everything was running smoothly in dryland training and skiing. I think I just stopped thinking about things and just skied. Enjoyed and had a lot of fun.

You are at home in the speed disciplines, but you showed great skill in slalom and giant slalom, particularly in Maribor, where you finished 10th and 14th. Are tech disciplines something you will consider in the future? Or is it more of a compliment for your speed training?
We always try to train everything. I wouldn’t like to present myself as a specialist for certain discipline. During the season, it’s quite hard to find the right balance between races, training and resting. Doing the whole World Cup circuit, all the races, it’s really exhausting, so I guess we will see how that goes in the next season.

What’s next for you? We can imagine the Olympic Winter Games and the Overall World Cup being at the top of the list. Are those goals for you?
Those are every athlete’s dreams, also mine. On that special race days, anything is possible. We’ve seen it many times. Guess what I was doing in this season worked really well – I tried my best on every race. So why not do it there as well? But it’s still a long way to go and a lot of races before next season’s highlight.

After your Junior World Champion title in 2008, you suffered different severe injuries. Can you tell us about it and describe your way back to the top?
In summer 2008, I had a bad crash in downhill training in La Parva, Chile. I tore my ACL, both meniscuses had cracks, side bands were partly broken. After surgery, things didn’t go that well, I needed another arthroscopic surgery to clean the right knee. Muscles couldn’t develop because I had a lot of pain. After that it got a bit easier, I could start training normally. But again, exactly one year after the first surgery, I had a slalom crash that resulted in a dislocated patella and partly broken ACL. The doctors cleaned the knee (same, right) saying it should be ok. Well, it was not. I had a lot of pain and realized, I have to look for help somewhere else. So I went to Basel, Switzerland. There Dr. Friederich and his team saved my knee, and my career. That was in 2010. After everything was better again, I could race normally and I was selected to represent Slovenia at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. But one month before, on the downhill race in Zauchensee, I almost crashed again and broke 1/3 of my ACL. Yet again, I had another arthroscopic surgery in Basel. And I was lucky to have the best team of doctors and physiotherapists around me – I still manage to attend the Olympics. Even today, I still have only 25 percent of normal ACL in my right knee, everything else is grown together with PCL. Plus my muscles are strong enough to keep the knee stable, so it works just fine.

You work with a personal team including your mom as your technician. What are the advantages of this structure and how important is this small, trusted team around you?
Advantage of a small, individual team is that we can do what I need the most, all the time. If that is more training, more rest or whatever, we just do it. The team around me is almost like my family; we are very connected. Sometimes it makes it harder because we are so emotional. But most of the time, it’s the best.

In addition to your career world class athlete, you are studying economics at the University in Maribor. How do you manage both activities?
University is quite on the side during winter. It’s really really hard to study and race at the same time. I wish I would do exams faster, but sometimes I don’t have enough energy to study. Good thing is that I know a thing or two about business in skiing and how it works in real life, not only from the books.

Release from FIS

Santa Fe Ski Team coach dies at age 29

Stefan Seigmann, a coach for the Santa Fe Ski Team, died on April 9 in a car accident at age 29. Seigmann was born on August 2, 1987 in Salzburg, Austria, to Hubert and Lisa Seigmann. Seigmann grew up in Ruidoso, New Mexico, where his magnetic smile and larger-than-life personality won him friends from around the world.

In his youth, Seigmann spent years on the Sierra Blanca Ruidoso Ski Team, where he raced competitively and honed his skills as a ski coach. In 2012, he joined his father, Hubert, in coaching the Santa Fe Ski Team. For the next five ski seasons, he helped kids of all ages discover the joy of skiing and build the self-confidence to tackle the challenges of the race course. He always pushed the athletes to do better, and at the same time taught them to love the sport. He was a fixture in the Southern Series, and highly respected as a coach wherever his team competed.

Seigmann was an avid outdoorsman who loved to ski, hike, bike, camp and fly fish. Always up for an adventure, he loved every minute of his busy life. He was passionate about photography, and beautifully chronicled his travels throughout the world. When he wasn’t on the ski slopes, he worked as a Surgical Tech at Christus St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe. He took great pride in fully researching each procedure he assisted with, and he was highly respected by nurses and doctors alike for his attention to detail, his generous spirit and his compassion for his patients.

His family was one of the most important parts of Seigmann’s life. He loved working side-by-side with his dad, Hubert, and he had a special relationship with his mother, Lisa. He loved and admired them both, and was one of the rare individuals who shared that love openly. He was always close with his extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Most importantly, Seigmann welcomed all of his many friends and acquaintances into that special group known as family. He embraced everyone he met, and spread his joy for life liberally. Few people positively influenced as many people as Seigmann did.

A celebration will be held at Ski Apache in Ruidoso, New Mexico on Saturday, April 29 at noon. The celebration will be held on Easy Street, so please wear comfortable walking shoes.

Release from the Santa Fe Ski Team

American speed skier bids farewell to World Cup

U.S. Ski Team athlete Leanne Smith announced her retirement on Friday. Smith had over 100 World Cup starts in her career starting back in 2007. In those 10 years, she earned two World Cup podium finishes–a third place in the Cortina d’Ampezzo downhill in 2013 and a second place in the 2012 Val d’Isere downhill. Aside from the racing, she’ll miss her fellow athletes.

“I’ll definitely miss my teammates,” she said. “They’ve become family. Given the environment of life on the World Cup, we are around each other pretty much constantly. You are training, you are competing and you couldn’t be living any closer together. But these are the people you are making the memories with and the people that helped you get there.”

Smith was plagued by injuries in recent years and spent the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons off of the slopes. However, for Smith, there are many good memories.

“I have great memories of every stage of my career, but if I had to choose I would say the Olympics,” Smith said. “It is the pinnacle for every athlete. A medal would’ve been unbelievable, but just being there and representing the United States with thousands of other athletes, from all over the world, is something special. It’s probably the first thing that comes to mind since most little ones dream of being Olympians.”

Next up for Smith is coaching at the first American Downhillers camp in May with the likes of retired athlete Marco Sullivan and current racer Bryce Bennett.

“I am excited to work with guys like Marco, that have so much knowledge and experience,” said Smith. “These guys are all legends on the speed side. It will be great to hear their thoughts and understand concepts that they have been successful with. I don’t know if I have seen a camp that has more talented skiers and coaches in one place.”

THANK YOU to everybody for the cheers, the support, and the words of encouragement over the last ten years. I am so lucky to have had this experience and met so many influential people as well as made friendships that will last a lifetime. It was quite a ride and I am ready to be moving forward into the next phase of life. I will be taking every bit of knowledge, as well as all of the wonderful experiences with me. Thank you to my sponsors for your support through it all. Without you guys I would still be on the bunny hill, so thank you! @cranmoremountain @rossignol @rossignolracing @lange_boots @pocsports @reusch_brand @swix_sport #ajcolemanandsons @usskiteam wrote an article about my career with #whatmakesachamp built in. Links in my profile! ✌🏼 Thank you all! ❤

A post shared by Leanne Smith (@leannestagramm) on Apr 21, 2017 at 11:04am PDT

Norway names 2017-18 national team

The Norwegian Ski Association has named 38 athletes to the World Cup and Europa Cup teams for the 2017-2018 season. Amongst them are 2017 Europa Cup Overall Champion Kristina Riis Johannesen and 2017 World Cup super-G globe winner Kjetil Jansrud.

Women’s World Cup Team
Ragnhild Mowinckel, Sports Team Rival
Nina Løseth, Spjelkavik IL
Mina Fuerst Holtmann, Bærums Skiklub
Maria Tviberg, Geilo IL
Maren Skjøld, Gjovik Skiklubb
Kristina Riis Johannesen, Ready IL
Kristin Anna Lysdahl, Bærums Skiklub

Women’s Europa Cup Team
Kristine Haugen, Lommedalen IL
Guro Hvammen, IL Heming
Kajsa Vickhoff Small, Bærums Skiklub
Thea Stjernesund, Hakadal IL
Marte Monsen, Bærums Skiklub
Marte Berg Edseth, IL Heming
Kaja Norbye, IL Heming

Men’s World Cup Team
Aksel Lund Svindal, Lower Romerike Alpin club
Leif Kristian Haugen, Pocket Dalens IL
Kjetil Jansrud, Peer Gynt Alpin
Henrik Kristoffersen, Raelingen Skiklubb
Sebastian Johan Foss Solevåg, Spjelkavik IL
Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, Pocket Dalens IL
Jonathan Nordbotten, Ingierkollen / Rustad Slalom club
Rasmus Windingstad, Bærums Skiklub
Bjørnar Neteland, Fana IL
Axel William Patricksson, Ingierkollen and Rustad SL.KL
Adrian Smiseth Sejersted, Stabæk IF
Marcus Monsen, Aaron Skiklubb

Men’s Europa Cup Team
Stian Saugestad, Grong IL
Henrik Røa IL Heming
Peder Dahlum Eide, Lommedalen IL
Patrick Haugen Veisten, Nero Alpin
Timon Haugan, Oppdal Alpine
Tobias Windingstad, Bærums Skiklub
Tomas Markegård, Hemsedal IL
Bjørn Brudevoll, Hemsedal IL
Joachim Jagger Lindstøl, IL Heming
Fabien Wilkens Solheim, IL Heming
Aleksander Sannes Thorsen, Njård

Release for the Norwegian Ski Association

Swiss skier leaves World Cup after 15-year career

Swiss veteran Fabienne Suter has decided to step back from the World Cup tour after more than a decade of racing.

“And suddenly you know it is time to start something new and to trust in the magic of the beginning, trusting in this spell, the right time has come, new paths to go,” said Suter.

Photo by GEPA pictures/ Harald Steiner

Photo by GEPA pictures/ Harald Steiner

The 32-year-old skier can look back fondly on 15 years and a total of 20 podium finishes on the World Cup, four of them victories. She stood on the podium five times at home races and was allowed to call herself a three-time Swiss National Champion. She competed in two Winter Olympic Games and took part in six World Championships.

For Suter, the highlight of her career was claiming second place in the downhill standings in 2015-16 and collecting a medal at the World Cup Finals in St. Moritz. She made her World Cup debut in December 2002, and in recent years Suter, with her extensive experience, was a support for the younger Swiss athletes.

“Even if the 15 years in the World Cup were not always easy, I mainly take the positive memories, emotions and many nice encounters into my new life.”

Suter does not yet know in detail what activity she will pursue in the future.

“Like the last two years, I will work during the summer months at the Rigi Rope Park in Kuessnacht, working on the farm and helping in the restaurant, which will give me the time to plan my future.”

Release from Swiss Ski Federation

Norwegian speed skier announces retirement

Attacking Viking Lotte Smiseth Sejersted announced her retirement from World Cup ski racing on Thursday. Her Instagram post revealed that after years of injuries, she was not willing to risk it all the slopes anymore.

“So, I have decided to retire from ski racing,” Sejersted wrote on Instagram. “I have had the most amazing years doing what I love, but I feel like it’s time to start a new chapter. In this sport, you have to be willing to risk everything and after the last years with injuries I’m at a point where I’m not willing to take that risk anymore. I’m so thankful for all the people who made this journey possible. I will miss skiing, but I’m excited for new adventures in life.”

The Norwegian had 125 World Cup starts in her career and skied to eight top 10 results, most recently a fifth-place finish in the 2015 Lake Louise super-G. Sejersted made her World Cup debut back in 2009, and was the 2011 Junior World Downhill Champion.

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