At the age of 25, Anna Veith won everything there is to win as a ski racer. Then her career deteriorates into a fight that the Austrian accepts – and now ends as the winner.
Olympic champion, world champion, overall World Cup winner in 2014 and 2015 – already at the tender age of 26, Anna Veith is one of the most successful athletes in ski racing. She is about to become the equivalent of high-flyer and compatriot Marcel Hirscher, who can win the overall World Cup eight times. In retrospect, Veith has reached the sporting high point of her career at this point – even if nobody thought that was possible at the time.
But the Austrian’s career, which had been so smooth until then, then takes a turn – for the time being, especially next to the ski slope. Due to differences of opinion, Veith takes on the Austrian Ski Association and refuses to leave the personal marketing to the ÖSV President Peter Schröcksnadel. The dispute escalated when the popular sportswoman Mercedes became a sponsor, even though Audi had the right to exclusivity at the ÖSV.
Despite harsh criticism and in the crossfire of the media, Veith cannot be beaten. In a private letter to the association that goes public, Veith even threatens to resign. Schröcksnadel accuses her of an outdated understanding of roles: «Should I accept that I always have to put myself back as a woman?»
The injury witch strikes
The parties only managed to smooth the waves after several attempts – Veith received the requested private advisor as well as her own media advisor. After reaching an agreement, Schröcksnadel says that the allegations of the Austrian flagship hit him very hard, so that he even ended up in the hospital.
Veith finds himself there a little later. Three days before the start of the season, in October 2015, she falls badly during training and suffers a “total damage” in her right knee. Cruciate ligament tear, torn ligament, patellar tendon tear – the diagnosis is devastating. The World Cup winter was over before it started.
Only a long and arduous 14 months later does Anna Fenninger return to the World Cup – after marrying snowboarder Manuel Veith under a new name. This should not bring her luck, the next setback follows immediately. After two months, she also had to stop the 2016/17 season prematurely; due to a chronically inflamed patella tendon in her previously healthy knee, the next operation was unavoidable. But Veith should report back again.
The last milestones
1001 days after her last triumph, she wins the Super-G in Val d’Isère in December 2017 – it is also the last of Anna Veith’s 15 World Cup victories. And at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, she already speaks of her greatest victory in a TV interview after the Super-G when she was pushed out by the Czech outsider Ester Ledecká by a single hundredth of a second.
Veith’s satisfaction does not detract from that. “The most emotional moment was undoubtedly the silver medal at the 2018 Olympic Games,” she looks back on Saturday at “ORF”. «This medal was the reward for all the hard work. That was the confirmation that I did the right thing. From that point on, the injury was ticked off for me. » The suffering was definitely worth it.
The injury too much
Almost a year later – in January 2019 – the injury witch strikes again. Without falling, Veith tears the cruciate ligament in his right knee again. It’s the infamous injury too much.
After that, the 30-year-old can no longer keep up with the fastest. “Last winter I did everything I could to come back and find trust, but I just couldn’t get where I wanted to go,” she explains.
Therefore, the right moment for the resignation has now come. “I feel liberated, a certain load has already fallen off my shoulders,” admits Veith. Nevertheless, she will of course miss everyday life as a ski racer: «I have never done anything else. I have never loved anything else so much. The smell of fresh snow. The early morning hours on the glacier. The team. I will miss all of that. » Above all, the exceptional athlete will be missing from skiing.