SKI WORLD CHAMPION AND 37 WORLD CUP PODIUMS
After herniating a disk on Mausefalle,
Streif makes Hannes Reichelt a legend.
If you want to be among the fastest on alpine ski racing slopes, you need to know your limits. To reach them and go beyond. “I have a devil and an angel sitting on my shoulders,” explains Hannes Reichelt. “The devil says, ‘Give it gas... you need to win!’ The angel tries to slow me down.” Anyone who wants to be truly successful must frequently follow the devil’s advice.
You never lose sight of a childhood dream.
“Even as a child, I wanted to be a ski racer,” recalls the Austrian athlete. “And you never lose sight of a childhood wish.” Hannes followed his dream. In 2015 he became Super-G World Champion and also has 11 World Cup wins. He won downhill classics, including Bormio in Italy, Wengen in Switzerland and Kitzbühel in Austria, where he triumphed in 2014 after a legendary run, and despite having a herniated disk.
“At the top, you visualise the first few turns down to the Mausefalle (mousetrap),” says Hannes Reichelt, talking about the steepest part of the legendary Streif in Kitzbühel, Austria. There, ski racers are regularly subjected to g-forces ten times their body weight. “If you’re not 100% focussed, it’s dangerous. In Kitzbühel you need to go to the limit, or you won’t win.”
It was there, in 2014, that the man from Altenmarkt, Austria went to his limit. Twice. With victory in mind and a herniated disk in his back. “I should have gone to hospital, instead of down the Streif,” Hannes now says. At first, he just wanted to come down safely. Yet, his run went perfectly. 0.21 seconds faster than the rest of the world’s elite at the finish. A victory for eternity.
After a fault-free run I was rarely fast.
Right at the limit
On a downhill course, athletes go to their physical limits. Joints are hammered by uneven ground. Thigh muscles burn. “Everything hurts” says the World Champion. “After the race, when the adrenaline wears off, you experience a unique feeling of happiness, an extraordinary inner power.” For Hannes Reichelt, anyone who has felt it, is always searching for this kick.
After a race, you feel a special inner strength.
Hannes Reichelt on the development potential of helmets and goggles.
Hannes, what does protection mean to you?
In our sport, safety always has top priority. Starting with the race committee, which never sends us down a course in truly adverse weather conditions. Even in good weather you are always at the limit. If something happens, you need to be absolutely sure that you have the best protection.
Do you have that certainty?
When uvex engineers and experts tell me that my helmet is safe, I know I can rely on it.
When was the last time you were glad you wore a helmet?
Kitzbühel, 2016. I fell heavily and hit my head hard. A few spectators may even have thought, now it’s over for Hannes. But I was unhurt. I just had a slight headache for a few days. The reason is that helmets have really improved over the past two years.
What has changed?
Helmets now have more volume. Yet, by using carbon technology, they are hardly heavier. It is important because over uneven terrain your head often moves back and forth. uvex developers work closely with their athletes. We contribute to continually improving their products, so that recreational skiers also have the best possible protection.
What is important in a ski goggle?
As well as protecting your eyes, it is all about vision. I wear uvex downhill, which have a wide field of view and strong contrast. In flat light, if you can see just 1-2% better than other skiers, you could gain 0.1-0.2 seconds. Which can be the difference between victory or defeat. Plus, I can take less risks, to stay ahead. Good goggles help me win races.
Can goggles be improved?
I’m sure a lot will be optimised in future. Especially if there’s poor visibility or rapidly changing light conditions. We are at the centre of development and will always try to gain an advantage.
Sometimes you have to listen to the devil.