Ski Resort Life

Skier of the Decade: Hermann Maier, 1990's

Why Hermann Maier is the skier of the 1990's.

If Klammer’s brink-of-disaster Olympic downhill run was skiing’s exclamation point on the 1970s (see page 48), Hermann Maier’s horrendous crash at the Nagano Games was the exclamation point on the 1990s (see page 88). What made it miraculous was that after his crash Maier went on to win gold in super G and giant slalom. He finished off the winter by winning the first of his four career overall World Cup titles.

The rugged, muscled Maier became known as The Hermannator, in reference to his resemblance to his fellow Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger. Maier’s powerful, thick legs held him on edge no matter how extreme the angle of a highspeed turn. A 2002 motorcycle crash so grotesquely mangled his leg that doctors believed he would never walk normally again, let alone race. Driven by an unshakable work ethic, Maier stationary-biked 6,000 miles and lifted more than 800 tons to strengthen his legs. He came back to win the overall World Cup title in 2004. Another miracle by the Hermannator.