After Aleksander Aamodt Kilde has now also won the overall World Cup, the FIS working groups around Atle Skaardal and Pernilla Wiberg (equipment), which have been slowed down by Corona, are active again. Injury prevention should be addressed at Zoom conferences. ÖSV sports director Toni Giger pleads for a paradigm shift. The goal is to be faster with less aggressive material in the future.
So far, according to Giger, one has only relied on material regulations. Companies and service people always reacted in the same way and compensated for a regulated component by making other parts of the equipment more aggressive. “If you make a run narrower and more twisting, the speed will be lower at first. However, with the by-product that the material becomes more aggressive,” Giger describes the problem.
The extension of the radius of the giant slalom skis to 35 meters, for example, was reacted to with tightened, bottom-side ski tuning and more aggressive ski boots. “It works. But only until the athlete makes a mistake.”
Therefore, all parameters of the ski race should be included in the future. “The question is, how should everything look together, so that you would be faster with less aggressive material and therefore use it?” Explains the 57-year-old from Salzburg, who has held numerous racing positions in the ÖSV since August 1st, 2020 acts as the successor to Hans Pum. Giger has been head of the department for development, research and innovation at the ÖSV since 2010.
With the help of ski, boot and tuning experts, a list of relevant parameters is now to be created. Giger: “With this catalog we then go to the course setters and race directors and see what can be implemented. Overall, it’s the opposite way than before.”
The background to the current initiative is that Kilde has already had several serious racing or training accidents this winter. Affected are Kilde’s Norwegian teammates Lucas Braathen and Atle Lie McGrath, but also the American Tommy Ford. Nicole Schmidhofer from Styria has the hardest hit among women, as is her compatriot from Salzburg, Bernadette Schild and Alice McKennis Duran (USA) the season is over. Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson broke ankle while training. The Swiss Mauro Caviezel, Niels Hintermann and Reto Schmidiger are also on mandatory breaks. The injury is not always attributable to the material alone, of course.
“Of course you will never be able to prevent injuries. But we have seen that aggressive material is more difficult to control. Usually a small mistake by the athlete is enough for major consequences,” says Giger. However, when asked by the APA, the ski expert did not want to comment on whether a new type of accident was basically recognizable. “I don’t want to anticipate that. The University of Innsbruck is currently analyzing and evaluating this.”
Giger does not accept that the best in the world should also ski with the most demanding equipment in alpine ski racing. “Of course, everyone ticks the same way. They want to get from start to finish as quickly as possible, the risk is consciously accepted.” But it is precisely for this reason that it is about reducing the risk of injury. “The easiest way to achieve a less aggressive power transfer from the snow to the body is when I create situations in which you are faster with less aggressive material.”
As an example, Giger named the “U” in front of the steep slope of the descent in Kitzbühel. “Am I faster with a drift on a short route than the longer route on a train?” As a result, such passages can be built as often as possible on the racing slopes in the future. “And take a step back from aggressiveness.”
Ex-racer Benjamin Raich is also trying to help with safety after his resignation. The Tyrolean also thinks a lot of taking aggressiveness out of the material, but you have to turn several screws overall. For example, on the racing calendar so that the racers can come to the competitions rested.