Some racers wield their skis like rapiers, an artful duel at speed: the thrust and parry leaving the curved mark of Zorro on the piste. Maier was quite the opposite. He bludgeoned the race course in a festival of destruction that bent the gates, his competitors, and the mountain itself to his will.
It seems perverse to find beauty in the whirlwind of hatred that passed for Maier’s average ski run, but there was something graceful in the gratuitous violence. The connoisseur of devastation will, however, always find something striking in the wreckage the Herminator left behind; smashed course infrastructure, broken ski equipment, wounded spectators and the lifeless husks of his adversaries.
This combination of controlled rage, hard yards, competitive acumen and rock-solid talent made Hermann Maier the best all-round ski racer ever. Not even the deeply cynical Fat Cantab editorial team can dispute his record: four overall World Cup titles (1998, 2000, 2001, 2004), two Olympic gold medals (both in 1998), and three World Championship titles (two in 1999 and one in 2005). Let’s not forget his 54 World Cup race victories: 24 super-G, 15 downhill, 14 giant slalom, and one combined. Slalom, then as now, was hardly considered a legitimate sport.
A beast both on and off the race course the Herminator’s training regime was legendary: from hours spent on his stationary bike (“I already know how to ski”) to juggling shotput balls. Like every Fat Cantab hero he valued strength over technique, attack over defence and gonads over style. His backstory is equally compelling: Maier never had it handed to him on a silver platter. Raised in a mountainous region in Austria without electricity or paved roads, the entire valley only had a few dozen chromosomes with which to fashion a genome. Maier spent years working as a brickie before breaking into the Austrian national ski team at an age (24) when most pundits thought he was long past it.
The Herminator’s technique defies analysis simply because most of the time he had no idea what he was doing. Never was pure animal instinct more devastatingly deployed for sliding down a mountain real quick. Days before a race the brick-with-eyes would enter a strange trance and not talk to anyone but his ski tuner. Maier’s mind was already ‘on course’ with a visualisation so intense he was unable to switch off even when things didn’t go according to plan. He often mounted the winners’ podium after crashing out of an event and invariably broke the medal presenter’s hand when shaking it. When he challenged Arnold Schwarzenegger to an arm wrestle who do you think won? *
Maier was a poor traveller. His limited understanding of the world beyond the sheltered valleys of Uber Altdorkenstein resulted in repeated diplomatic faux pas on the race circuit. During the 1998 Nagano Olympics he was formally introduced to the Emperor and Empress of Japan in the Chiyoda Palace. Unfortunately, he mistook a tatami mat for drug sample tray and curled one off in front of most members of the extended Imperial household.
No such boundaries existed on the snow. Maier’s career zenithed in an arc of repeated victory rarely seen in sport. Sports writers punched the hot key for ‘thesaurus’ in their quest for ever more ludicrous superlatives. He appeared unstoppable. What could possibly go wrong?
On the 24th of August 2001 a car smashed into the Herminator’s custom Harley Davidson motorbike on the way home from training. Austrian TV broke their regular programming to deliver the news. Maier was something of a big deal in the small mountainous country whose only other contribution to global culture is the invention of the break-away ski gate.
Initially doctors were more concerned with saving his life than his leg. On impact his right leg had been almost severed and, for a time, doctors feared they would have to amputate below the knee. After they had picked all the paint chips from his wound, the surgeons spent seven hours rebuilding his leg with titanium pins. Their hope was he would walk again.
The pundits believed Maier’s racing career was over, and he had to sit out the 2002 season, missing the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. All rehab is slow and lonely; the sponsors stop calling, suspicious race-team colleagues avoid you like the plague, and coaches pat you on the head with pity as they eye the next young buck on the Austrian Ski Team conveyor belt.
Maier returned to international competition in January 2003 in Adelboden, Switzerland. Just two weeks later during a raging blizzard, he shocked the skiing world with victory in the super-G at the spiritual home of ski racing in Kitzbühel, Austria. During the press conference Maier choked back the tears at the most amazing comeback in sporting history. Naturally Fat Cantab doesn’t condone this display of pathetic emotion in the sporting arena.
In 2004 the Herminator, in his first full season back, took both the super-G and overall titles and received the Laureus World Sports Award for the "Comeback of the Year". He hasn’t had to buy a drink since these heady days at any resort in the world and remains the single biggest point source for the consumption of schnapps in Europe.
Hermann Maier – Fat Cantab salutes you.
* Hint: it’s not Arnie…
Below: Hermann Maier's comeback victory 2003
Fat Cantab has been a huge supporter of snowboarding over the years. We watched in awe in the early days when Jake Burton invented snow and Tom Sims glaciated Mt Kilimanjaro. It is a fact, usually unacknowledged by the snowboarding mainstream, that many of the pivotal moments in the sport were aided and abetted by Fat Cantab staffers. After a particularly long lunch contributing editor Reg Asquith named two early snowboard tricks; ‘roast beef’ and ‘chicken salad’. We’ve been there for the highs and the lows, offering a shoulder to cry on when sought, and a staunch paternal hand when required.
Despite this multisport love-in, Fat Cantab has always maintained that snowboarding is a piss-poor way of moving about in the mountains. Long traverses, short inclines and any kind of flat spot leave our knuckle-dragging compatriots floundering like a hapless evolutionary offshoot on the Tree of Life. Even those snowboarders in possession of a fully functional set of bindings struggle when presented with such unusual mountain terrain features as an uphill bit. Removing the bindings renders what was barely plausible simply impractical. This hasn’t stopped a paradigm-busting explosion in the popularity of no-boarding as frustrated modern riders seek to capture the lost ‘soul’ of snowboarding.
Like the Pre-Raphaelites and Gothic-revivalists before them are no-boarders enlightened folk harkening back to a superior time in the distant past, or just a bunch of wankers who can’t hack the pace of modern life? In a first for Fat Cantab we actually did some journalism stuff, rather than just post a sprawling opinion piece, and went to find out.
Unless you have been living under a rock, in a cave on a desert island you will have followed the no-boarding craze with wonder. The sport stands in noble contrast to our otherwise pathetic and unfulfilled lives. Currently the fastest growing sport in the world, no-boarding is an adrenaline-fuelled cultural mega-phenomenon. Bindings are replaced with a studded, plastic mat. A rope is used to hold the ‘no-board’ to the soles of your boots; thus serving exactly the same purpose as traditional bindings but in a much more ineffective fashion. Truly pro-level no-boarders take the next logical step and dispense with the board altogether. These ninja-like super athletes form the bulk of the pictorial accompaniment to this article.
Expert ‘no-boarders’ are a sight to behold, mainly because of their rarity. Watching a bunch of novices, however, trying to make a short section of piste and instead launching directly to eyebrow is just the kind of entertainment Fat Cantab enjoys on the way up the chairlift.
Discovering the ‘soulful’ roots of snowboarding is a trend that Fat Cantab fully endorses. We love that shit. It was a simple time, with a cheap do-it-yourself ethos and a taste for rebellion against the harsh strictures of the Fascist ski industry. Although these outlaw values still bedrock the snowboard industry; it will now cost many thousands of dollars for a complete no-boarding setup.
Monoskiers have long searched for effective game-improvement technology. For the last thirty years this was achieved by closely mirroring the advances in traditional alpine equipment. During this period innovative monoski designers integrated side cut, twin tips, rocker and metronomic anti-vibration devices into their product. There was, however, always something holding monoskiers back from realising our vast potential. Monoskiers sacrificed a significant amount of “feel” and control over the monoski by using conventional ski boots. The dual foot print of regular ski boots interfered – sometimes catastrophically - with torsional and longitudinal rigidity. Edging was imprecise and “mono-steeze” was severely compromised.
The solution, while obvious in retrospect, required years of post-doctoral research and development by European genius Igor Ridanovic. In its initial form the monoboot was a simple, yet elegant, solution to the problems that had long plagued monoskiing. When the final prototypes were finished Igor wept at the beauty and sophistication of his creation - a watershed of modern design. A swag of design awards followed including the BMW Award for Technological Innovation (Sports) and the Per Gustafson Fellowship – a prestigious Swedish grant that includes an apartment in Stockholm and 70 hours of sex therapy.
By allowing for the instant transmission of micro-movements to the monoski this new technology has unleashed a revolution in the sport. The monoboot makes Alaskan big mountain descents and freestyle trickery possible. In the same manner that a lot of skiboard pros made the switch to twin-tips in the late nineties so many of today’s top professional skiers are in negotiations to “go mono”. The X-games will introduce a monoski division for the first time in 2018 although the International Monoskier’s Federation has not yet accrued the funds to bribe their way into the 2018 Olympics (“The Franchised Games”). As usual Fat Cantab remains in awe of the technical expertise and visionary fashion sense of our European cousins.
For more information, or to place an order, go to www.monoboot.com
The final frontier of foot-to-ski integration technology.
It’s a well documented fact that most people couldn’t ski prior to the invention of rocker skis by Shane McConkey in 1066. These days, of course, it is only the senile and cretinous who still ski on traditionally cambered skis. Like fat skis, twin tips and carving skis before them, rocker is the latest piece of must-have equipment that takes the mick out of gimmick. Turning up in a lift queue without rocker skis is basically equivalent to attending a dinner party without the latest generation of iPhone; social suicide on an atomic scale.
It is no surprise that such a revolutionary, necessary and desirable technology has application beyond its initial field of excellence. After years of painstaking research by Eurosport Industries at a remote castle in Rumania, rocker design has leapt the previously unassailable hardware-soft goods divide. Sock Rocker mimics the shape of rocker skis to provide a hitherto impossibly tight foot-to-ski interface. The product is already a multi Olympic and X-games gold medal winner. The Pro Team roster reads like a who’s who of the ski world, including Canterbury’s own Reginald Asquith.
How it works:
Sock Rocker is like a Wonder Bra for your feet – if your skis were shaped like a giant pair of tits. Sock Rocker exaggerates and elongates the natural camber of the foot between the heel and ball allowing for precise ski control and turn initiation. The gentle rise from the ball of the foot to the tip of the big toe eases the ski out of the turn for a crisp finish. The steep heel rise helps with landing on transitions, big air and reverse pop for urban.
The Sock Rocker profile varies dramatically according to use so Eurosport manufactures several varieties for the various ski disciplines. Sock Rocker will not only elevate your skiing to an elite level but the patented Dyna-Elastine carbon fibre composite will actually help you shed pounds by invigorating previously flaccid muscle groups. This has been a boon to pasta-loving pro skiers and has-beens alike. After only a few weeks in the Sock Rocker, Alberta Tomba once again fitted snugly into the three-legged, acid washed jeans he wore throughout his 1980s heyday.
Top freeski pro David Wise elaborates; “Sock Rocker has allowed me to take my game intergalactic. Prior to using the Sock Rocker I just couldn’t stick my triples in the pipe. From the first run in the half pipe with my rocked up socks I was boosting 2-3 foot further out and sticking absolutely fucking everything, both in the pipe and later in the bar. They work well for buttering, especially onto urban rails, toast and crumpets; where timing is so critical. As an added bonus I’ve lost my ample love handles. So my 2019 signature pant will no longer be a jodhpur.”
Sock Rocker variants: Race Stock Jib Pop All Mountain
How to rock your Sock Rocker:
Race stock Sock Rocker
Catastrophically steep heel rise, psychotic mid-sole camber and agro ball-to-toe elevation combine to create our most precise, angry and effective Sock Rocker. Strictly for Olympic-level athletes pursuing their dreams of Lycra-clad glory.
Jib Pop Sock Rocker
A gentle - yet aggressive - heel rise and precisely sloppy camber plus a limp yet shockingly rigid toe rise make this the ultimate sock for booters, pipe, urban and general jibbery pokery. Comes with a free garter belt in which to tuck your ultra-baggy pants to prevent binding catch.
All Mountain Sock Rocker
Compromise is a dirty word at Eurosport industries. However, we believe the All Mountain to be the most rounded in our Sock Rocker range. High performance combines with catwalk exuberance for a refined yet price-point sensitive, fashion-forward yet conservatively-styled wonder garment. They say you can’t be all things to all people but this product proves otherwise. A sensation at ISPO 2017 in Munich winning both tightest new product and people’s choice awards. Unfortunately the resulting stampede crushed several people to death against a bratwurst stand.
The secret is the geometry. Our research scientists created a new quadratic wave shape that dramatically enhances natural heel rise, then melds into an ebullient underfoot camber before embarking on a murderous rise to the point of the tippy toes. It looks beautiful. It is pure function.
Eurosport Sock Rocker only Euro 399 per sock. Available only a reputable ski shops.
0800 Rock My Sock
Ski industry types think that their tax-deductible piss fest amongst the flesh pots of Munich (AKA major ski trade fair ISPO) is a vital part of their business. It easy to believe that the creative juices flow freely in the famously liberal German city where Iggy Pop and David Bowie spent much of the late 1970s living a non-conformist, chemically enhanced, although non-gender-specific lifestyle.
The Fat Cantab team are regular visitors to ISPO but we make sure to keep it very tidy: pressing flesh with the ‘little people’ who keep the ski industry running day-to-day, and enjoying the freebies and bottomless beer glass that makes the tedium bearable.
The huge amount of new gear we receive is something of an embarrassment, but occasionally a piece of gold flashes in the pan... We were very excited to get our hands on the new touring ski from innovative snow sports conglomerate K2 Line Salatomic Inc. Standout feature was backcountry tea towel holder featuring ‘sphincterific’ clasping technology.
Google Inc today installed a 1.21 Gigawatt cloud computing facility in San Paolo California solely to archive GoPro footage from Wanaka-ites. The Sothern Lakes destination village now has the highest level of self-capture in recorded history. Few would now argue that Wanakans have surpassed the Socratic ideal that “the unexamined life is not worth living”.
An important threshold (known as the “Beiber Line” to Silicon Valley techies) was recently breeched: Wanaka folk are now recording so much of their lives that - irrespective of how long they live - they will never be able to watch it all. This is perhaps the most convincing argument for an afterlife in all of metaphysics. If there is any justice in this universe they will be forced to watch one another’s SUP yoga footage for eternity.