Cardrona, New Zealand, Aug 23--Austrian ski legend Hermann Maier lit up the slopes of Cardrona last week, making friends with kiwi skiers. "The Herminator" and several of his Austrian teammates are on a summer training tour of New Zealand resorts, taking in peak ski season in that country.
Maier, who specializes in the downhill and super G events, also took time out of his training to meet some of the young racers at Cadrona. He offered special encouragement to nine-year-old Jossi Wells, of Wanaka, New Zealand, an up-and-comer on the local racing circuit. Maier congratulated Wells on being the youngest competitor in Rip Curl Heli Challenge, held last week at Cadrona.
Wells, who started skiing at just 18 months, has been a fan of the Herminator, since the Austrian's stellar performance in Nagano Olympics. Herminator congratulated Wells on having started skiing at a very young age.
"I began skiing when I was two, so I've been skiing for the last 24 years," added Maier. "My parents had a ski school back in Austria when I was little, so it came naturally."
Young Wells seems to be already following in his hero's footsteps. He has a string of junior wins under his belt, and last season won having the South Island Championships.
Maier and the Austrians will swing through Cadrona again this Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 24-25, for more training.