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Hermann ‘The Herminator' Maier is a true symbol of modern day skiing and is one of the most established champions of Alpine ski racing, taking the sport to levels previously unseen. Born on December 7th 1972 near Salzburg, Austria, Maier has won everything there is to win and continues to enjoy the sport well into his thirties. A force of nature on the snow and seemingly indestructible off it, Maier has amassed a total of 53 World Cup victories (in four different disciplines) 4 Overall World Cup titles, 2 Olympic gold medals, 3 World Championship golds as well as 2 individual titles in the Downhill discipline, 3 in Giant slalom and 5 in SuperG, and is second only to Ingemar Stenmark in terms of male victories.
The Austrian is one of the leading sports men of his generation back home and as well as his results is famous for one of the most astonishing comebacks in sports history. His career seemed over after a near-fatal motorcycle accident in August 2001 that saw him collide with a car on his way home from a summer practice session. Doctors were close to amputating his leg, but instead Maier underwent massive reconstructive surgery. Many thought his career was over, and he had to sit out the 2002 season and most of the 2003 season, and missed the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
After that incident Maier learned to control his aggressive streak and no longer took unnecessary risks like in the 'old days', finding the right balance that still allowed him to win. Instead the then 31-year old astounded everyone by returning to competitive skiing in January 2003 at Adelboden and more surprisingly still managed to win the superG race in Kitzbuehel, the mecca of world skiing, just two weeks later.
He followed up this incredible comeback the following season when he was crowned Overall champion for the 4th time in his career, demonstrating his sheer strength of character and determination.
Throughout his teens Hermann helped out his parents in their ski school while also working as a bricklayer. He showed promising signs as a junior but was dismissed by the Austrian national team for not having the physical strength necessary for top level skiing. But the young Austrian stuck with his dream and built himself up to become the racing machine of the late nineties.
He eventually attracted the attention of the Austrian coaches in 1996 after clocking excellent unofficial times as a forerunner in a World Cup GS held on his home-run at Flachau. He participated in the Europa Cup and was crowned overall Champion that very same year. It wasn't long before he made his coaches regret their earlier short-sightedness and showed what a true champion he really was.
Hermann Maier's dedication and more importantly his determination took him to the top of the world. He won his first World Cup race in 1997 in the superG of Garmisch Partenkirchen and his first titles arrived in the 1998 season when he wiped away the competition winning three out of a possible five globes. He notched up an incredible 10 wins in four different disciplines, adding a further 9 podium finishes and managing 5 victories in a row in the month of January.
He followed that up with a slightly more subdued winter in the 1999 season, only winning the superG globe but was back to his brilliant and powerful best the year after that when he set a new record in the Overall by reaching the 2000 points landmark, clinching four out of the five titles available - the first man to do so since Zubriggen in 1987.
He further cemented his position as a national hero in the Winter Olympics of Nagano in 1998 where he managed two gold medals after surviving a horrible crash in the downhill. It was then that his nickname ‘The Herminator' really started to catch on thanks to his aggressive style and lack of fear.
The last of his Overall titles was won back in 2004 when Maier was already 32 years old although he did rally for one last push in 2006 at the Turin Olympics where he took home the silver medal in the superG and the bronze in giant slalom.
On January 18th 2008, he was ranked second in Kitzbühel's super-G behind Marco Büchel. His career result in Kitzbühel's super-G is incredible and the best in history. In seven races he has posted five wins and two second places. A day later, he was fifth in the downhill.
In the 2009 season it seemed as is 'The Herminator' still had one last surprise in store. After the disappointments of the previous season he started the speed events well with a victory in Lake Louise's superG almost two years after his last win in Garmisch. At the grand old age of 35, going on 36, could the legend pull off another miracle? Maier led the superG standings all the way to the last race of the season in Are but gradually over the winter his results had been gradfually getting worse and he wasn't able to hang on to take a historic title.
In 2004, Maier wrote an autobiography with his friend and former publicity agent, Knut Okresek. The German language book, Hermann Maier: Das Rennen Meines Lebens, dealt mainly with his stunning recovery from the 2001 motorcycle accident. It was published in english in time for the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, as Hermann Maier: The Race of My Life.