Skiing’s new hero: sensational win on the notorious Streif
The news is broadcast around the world: Thomas Dressen wins ski racing’s hardest and most important race. Just 24, he achieves legendary status, after a perfect run down the ice-hard “Streif”, also his first World Cup victory.
Just a few seconds have the power to completely change a life. This is what happens in Kitzbühel, Austria. From the steepest start of all the World Cup races just 116 seconds pass until the man in the black and white skinsuit races over the finish line at 140 km/h. On the display board a green number 1 lights up. Followed by jubilant cheering.
“Yeah, how cool!” cries Thomas Dressen. He can hardly believe his luck. He unbuckles, picks up his skis, thrusts them aloft, cheering, and celebrates: with Felix Neureuther, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the 20,000 spectators in the stadium. “It is indescribable,” says Thomas talking to reporters after the race. “For me to win here in Kitzbühel is simply awesome.”
The start line is at an elevation of 1,665 meters on the Hahnenkamm. The race sets off with a 50% gradient, with the first spectacular jumps in the Mousetrap, which is also the steepest section (85%). It is followed by the Compression, where the downhillers are subjected to forces of ten times their bodyweight, then into the Carousel, and the extended technical right turn of the Steilhang’s steep slope.
On the relatively flat Brückenschuss skiers need to demonstrate their gliding skills. Then, suddenly, it’s: jump over the Old Corridor and straight on to the Seidlalm Jump, the Larch Glide, and then Hausberg Corner, which is visible from the finish area. Onto the final 50 meters, one last hard push over the Traverse to the finish line, reaching speeds of up to 140 km/h.
Thomas Dressen goes into the race with number 19. After the first split time it is clear: there could be a surprise! The young German jumps 38 meters in the Mousetrap, accelerates to 113 km/h, masters the Steilhang with flying colors and comes – thanks to clearly, perfectly prepared skis – out of the gliding section with a half-second lead.
With his uvex contest goggle he can see the smallest indentations on the slope. The customs and excise sergeant, who weighs 97 kg, travels as if on rails to the finish line. Beating Swiss Downhill World Champion Beat Feuz, who had been in the lead, by 0.2 seconds, pushing him into second place. Although it sounds like the blink of an eye, at 140 km/h this means a lead of 5.7 meters. Thomas Dressen has won the Streif – and written history – in 116.5 seconds.
The race that every ski racer wants to win.
Thomas Dressen made his Ski World Cup debut on February 21st 2015. Since then, he has continued to improve, so his victory in Kitzbühel was no coincidence. In December he pushed hard on the challenging Birds Of Prey course in Beaver Creek, USA to his first World Cup podium. And followed it with two 5th place finishes: in the Alpine Combined in Bormio, Italy and Classic Downhill in Lauberhorn in Wengen, Switzerland.
„Every day, I try to go to the max because that is what keeps me going. And that’s also why Kitzbühel was the highlight of my season”, says frontman of the German speed team Thomas Dreßen. “As an athlete, you experience the myth of Streif and Kitzbühel in a special way.”
The most successful German downhill racer of all time
Finally, after 39 years, suddenly a German racer is once again at the top in Kitzbühel, the classic downhill competition. And in March, Dressen causes another sensation: a place on the podium in Kvitfjell, Norway. Together with Sepp Ferstl and Markus Wasmeier, Dressen is now the most successful German downhill racer of all time in the World Cup.
“It is my motivation to shift my limits every day. And then, of course, there’s always adrenalin.” It’s his ambition that lets him go beyond his limits on a daily basis. That’s why he sees his training as the biggest setscrew to remain successful. “In the race itself, you can only live up to what you’ve already done in training”, says Dressen. “I have to switch off my brain and trust my feeling.”
Dressen chooses a safe companion for both training and race: the uvex race carbon ski helmet. Good looks, even better protection. And the innovative uvex DSV lens has ensured perfect vision all throughout the season – in all weather conditions. A feeling of perfect safety has definitely opened up some new possibilities. “You just dare to go to the limit”, says World Cup winner Dressen. And that has obviously led to great success.