Getting the team behind the racer

Kitzbühel is the biggest race of them all on the World Cup. Despite having won countless World Cup's, season long titles and much more, Beat Feuz admitted that the fact he did not have a win in Kitzbühel to his name was something that irked him. Winning the shortened race in 2021, the replacement race for Wengen, will have satisfied this feeling no doubt.

Beat Feuz is at the top of the game. He has won the last three Downhill Crystal Globe's for being the best racer across the season. He has the support of one of the biggest brands in the business, Head, as well as an extremely well planned out programme with the Swiss Ski Team.

At the other end of the start list is the British team. The one athlete. the one athlete that has to contend with a programme that is geared to the technical races as that is where the performances have been coming. With 21 top ten finishes to his name, including three podium finishes, Dave Ryding is setting the bar high for those following him.

But it was not always like that.

History shows that Konrad Bartelski in 1981 finished second in Val Gardena, Martin Bell finished seven times in the top ten in Downhill, as have Graham Bell and Finlay Mickel all finished in the top ten in Downhill on the World Cup. The history is there for the British team in Downhill but recently the focus has been on slalom and the technical events.

Downhill can only be contested in FIS races when racers make the Under 18 age group, Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super G can all be competed in in the younger age groups. The focus of British racers is geared towards the technical events partially due to the ability to train for them on the dry slopes in the UK and not needing the slopes to be roped off due to the high speed hoped for in training for Downhill and Super G.

While Britain's top speed racers at the moment is Jack Gower, he is a past World junior Giant Slalom Champion in the Under 18 age group. He would give the current incumbent of the starting spot on the World Cup, Charlie Raposo, a good race in Giant Slalom. While Raposo has the use of a serviceman, Gower is left to his own devices to plan his own campaign. He can train with the Europa Cup team in the tech events but his events are the speed races, the downhill and Super G.

With no serviceman to fine tune his skis, he is racing on Salomon, part of the Amer Group, the vital time that a good serviceman can eek out of skis, is lost. When Dave Ryding won the Europa Cup tour in 2013, he was still preparing his own skis. Matthias Hargin, his big rival that year, had the benefit of serviceman.

Tech races are not quite so dependent on a fast pair of skis. Feuz won Kitzbühel this year on the Friday on a pair of skis that had been bedded in over the years. Heinz Hemmerle, service man to Lindsey Vonn, used to have over 50 pairs of skis that he was working on to help her stay at the top of her game. Vonn went on to be the most successful female racer of all time in terms of number of races won, 82 races.

While Gower is still learning the hills and how the tracks work, doing all this without the aid of a serviceman, is hard. It will cost over £20,000 to hire a decent 'ski magician' that is so vital to making speed skis fast. Instead of jack having to resort to his father helping out with doing his skis, Winter Sports Foundation are leading the way in helping Gower raise funds towards a serviceman as well as benefitting from making the money go that little bit further.

Can you help a little bit as well?

Reusch gloves will be running a competition for anyone that donates £100 to win a free pair of gloves through Ellis Brigham.

To donate to Jack and help him in his search for a serviceman through Winter Sports Foundation click here

NB All the servicemen employed by the British athletes on the `World Cup are privately paid for by the athletes themselves

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