10 Mins With: Pirmin Zurbriggen
Pirmin Zurbriggen is one of the most successful ski racers in history, with four overall World Cup wins, Olympic Downhill gold and nine World Championships medals. Today he is an ambassador for “Speed Opening” – the highest and first cross-border downhill races on the World Cup calendar, taking place on 29/30 October and 5/6 November, from Zermatt down to Cervinia. Iain Martin of theskipodcast.com caught up with him.
ITS> What do you consider your greatest achievements in racing?
PZ> When you have a career as I had, there are so many moments that are important to you, but winning the World Cup overall is the biggest and best. It’s something unforgettable.
ITS> How has racing changed since your day?
PZ> It changes all the time. Most recently they have put in put in more turns because the speeds are getting faster. It’s not so bumpy now, but the speed is incredibly high. The other part is that when we competed you could have a private life, but today with social media you have to portray yourself all the time.
ITS> The Speed Opening course has been designed by another Swiss Olympic Downhill gold medallist, Didier Défago. What do you think of it?
PZ> It could be a very interesting downhill. Didier Défago has done a wonderful job. What’s most important is how they are going to set the course. It’s a long, wide slope, but you can do different things with it. I think it will be spectacular.
ITS> Do you think that 4km length of course will be tough, especially starting at such a high altitude?
PZ> We had longer downhills in our time. Today races are shorter, but they need more power. So, it’s going to be interesting to see what the current set of athletes think of it. It’s good that in this first year we’re not going to start right from the top to give the athletes a chance to try racing at this high altitude.
ITS> What are your thoughts for the future of racing in the context of climate change?
PZ> In recent years there’s been less snowfall, but we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Competitions may have to adapt and look for solutions so we can continue to race.
ITS> What advice would you offer young skiers keen to make a career out of racing?
PZ> It’s important to remember that snowsports can be dangerous and you can easily pick up injuries. My first tip for everyone thinking about racing is to try to learn something besides your sport. Aside from that, it’s important to let yourself enjoy it. Racing is something unbelievable, from the feeling of the snow to trying to be the fastest and pushing yourself to your limits: it’s just a super experience. Do it! speedopening.com
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