10 Mins With: Matthias Mayer

STORY BY Patrick Thorne 2nd March 2017

Matthias Mayer is a World Cup alpine ski racer who shot to fame at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi when he won the blue ribbon Men’s Downhill race, then aged 23, having never won a World Cup Downhill race before.

Mayer’s achievement went one better than his father Helmut, who had been the silver medallist in the first Olympic Super-G (Mayer’s main discipline) in Calgary in 1988. Mayer is from the province of Carinthia and grew up in a village close to the hometown of Franz Klammer.

You come from a village down in the southeast of Austria near to Italy and Slovenia. Is there rivalry between skiers from your area and those from areas like Salzburg and Tirol in the Austrian team?

Of course, when you’re young there’s a little bit of rivalry; when you’re 15 you are fighting on the slopes with skiers from the Tirol and Salzburg, but when you are in the World Cup it doesn’t matter where you are from – you just have to ski fast.

The Olympics in South Korea is coming up fast. Have you had a chance to race on the downhill course there yet? Do you expect it to be very different to Sochi?

No, I’ve not had a chance to ski the 2018 Olympic Downhill course yet as I was injured last year, so sadly I had to watch the race in front of the TV. It seems to be a very different course: Sochi was very technical and steep, with big jumps, but in Korea it seems to be smoother with big curves and long rolls. That’s for me the main difference.

Please can you tell us a little about D-air® technology, the airbag jacket that downhill racers can now wear, and how it works for you and other skiers?

The D-air® is a nearly perfect product for me. We’ve worked very hard for it and there are always little developments to do, but it means we can be fast using it and we can be safe using it. That’s the most important thing. I’ve been skiing with the D-air® airbag now for two years, and of course it makes me faster because I feel more safe and it makes me more confident.

Should more Brits come to ski in Carinthia?

We have many beautiful ski areas and we have lots of skiers, but more visitors would be nice, yes.

You come from a famous skiing family; is that a help or a hindrance?

Well, sometimes it’s a help, yes, but sometimes it’s a challenge too. I have to follow in the big footsteps of my father, so it can be difficult sometimes.

Do you have any advice for young racers hoping to become world famous like you? What should they do/think about?

I think the most important thing for young ski racers is to never give up. After one race there’s always the next race coming, so even if one goes badly, there’s always another race.

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