Stefan Eberharter (born March 24th, 1969 in Stumm, Austria) is considered one of the greatest Austrian skiers of all-time. A member of the Wunderteam he was encouraged to ski from a very early age by his father and two brothers and participated in his first competition at the age of six.
The big man from the Tyrol region soon showed his speed skills and entered the World Cup circuit in 1989, collecting four Top 10 positions and a year later he starred in a major role in the World Championships staged on the home soil of Saalbach-Hinterglemm.
Eberharter edged out all the favourites, taking two golds in Super-G and Combined. A new star was born and the future looked brighter and brighter for a skier aged only 21, but unfortunately destiny wasn't on his side.
A long series of injuries marred his career, sending him into a nosedive. Although he competed at the 1992 Winter Games at Albertville, he tore a ligament in his left knee in a nasty downhill crash on the Saslong slope in Val Gardena in 1993, which forced him to miss the entire 1993-1994 season and the 1994 Winter Games.
Eberharter reinjured himself in 1994 and sat out the World Cup for two years in a row. He began to train slowly and initially he competed in the Europe Cup circuit with the intent to regain his past form and glory. He made his return to a World Cup slope in the 1997-1998 season and on March 11, 1998 the Austrian won his first WC race, triumphing in the GS held at Crans Montana. He also distinguished himself in the GS, the technical event par excellence, earning a silver medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Still in 1998 he led an Austrian five man sweep in the SG staged at Aspen.
The Wunderteam member skied very well in the next three seasons, capturing 5 WC wins but he got the best out of himself from 2001 to 2004. In 2001 Eberharter stepped on a Worlds' podium ten years after the Saalbach double, by winning the silver in the Super-G. At the age of 31 he went into double digits en route to his first overall World Cup, plus the small globes in SG and DH. He led another Austrian 5 man sweep in the 2002 downhill at St. Moritz. As reigning Champion he retained the overall title in the 2002-2003 season, thanks to nine successes, also adding the SG and DH trophies.
He attended the 2002 Olympics' with high expectations and won a complete set of medals: the bronze in the downhill, a silver in the super-G, beaten by Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt and the much sought after gold in the GS, defeating USA's Bode Miller by 88 hundredths of a second.
Eberharter was able to compete at high levels in two consecutive decades. He aimed for the hat-trick in the 2003-2004 season, but he surrendered the coveted Overall crystal globe to his fellow teammate Hermann Maier. Eberharter finished as runner-up by only 42 points at the end of that season but conquered his third gold at the World Championships, snatching the win again in the SG at St. Moritz.
The Tyrolian racer hung up his skis in September 2004 after winning 29 World Cup races. If he hadn't had such bad luck he could have won at least 40, maybe, 45 World Cup races. Nowadays, the Austrian is searching for success in his new career as a journalist.