Pain and Glory: Hermann Maier

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Wipeout!

Nagano, Japan, 1998

Hermann Maier is flying through the air, upside down. This isn't supposed to be happening. The Nagano Olympic downhill track has been derided, during a week of weather delays, as a bunny hill unworthy of the world's best skiers. For Maier, at the peak of his dominance, it should be child's play. But the mild-mannered Alpin Turn has been reconfigured by new snow, and when Maier charges it at cruising speed, he's launched pinwheeling into near-earth orbit. His reentry is head-first, and after impact, Maier rockets through ridiculously inadequate safety netting and clatters down a rock-strewn face. Dead? Paralyzed? Hardly. The Hermannator rises to his feet, waves and goes on to win the super G and GS later in the week.