STREIF - One Hell of a Ride

Hannes Reichelt / Austria

In the great World Cup arena, which is populated with its share of extroverts and alpha males, Hannes Reichelt is an exception: a quiet outsider, a reflective and highly focused competitor who never hogs the limelight, yet is respected and esteemed by his colleagues for his achievements.

 

The 34-year-old Austrian – a private pilot and passionate trials rider in his free time – has had a number of top placements during the course of his career. Some of his greatest achievements are six World Cup wins and a super-G silver medal at the 2011 World Championship, as well as a super-G World Cup victory. But Reichelt celebrated his biggest success in January 2014 on the Streif – much to everyone’s surprise. The backstory: During the 2013 summer training at the Stilfser Joch, Reichelt experiences a stabbing pain in his back. After a short break, he feels well enough to continue with his training, despite constant pain. With the help of conservative treatment and painkillers, he is able to manage the pain, right until Hahnenkamm weekend is just around the corner. After the first (and only) downhill training on the Streif, his condition takes a turn for the worse. Reichelt doesn’t think he’ll be able to take part in the race, and up until the very last moment, he considers throwing in the towel. But then he decides to go for it – and wins the 2014 Streif ahead of Aksel Lund Svindal and Bode Miller. In the finish area, Reichelt tries to hide the fact that he is in excruciating pain. Two days later, the agony is so great that he visits a specialist, who gives him devastating news...