Best quote about best skier:
Stephan Eberharter, the recently retired Austrian who dominated speed events, who won the all-around World Cup title last year, after the 1998 Nagano Olympics performance of teammate Hermann Maier, who the day after a spectacular 70 mph crash in the downhill, won the gold medal in a fearless Super-G:
Eberharter: "I am the best skier in the world. But Hermann Maier--he's from another planet."
Best skier ever:
Hard to say. Hermann Maier is the best physical specimen. And after nearly losing a leg, and having little feeling in it, he has made an amazing comeback. But he doesn't ski slalom. And he's like the other top guys, just bigger and stronger.
I'd have to say it has to be a contemporary skier, not someone from the past. The equipment is better, the courses harder, the technique more refined, the physical conditioning infinitely better today. Calling a long-ago racer the best is like saying a 1960s era male swimmer was the greatest ever, even though his splits are now routinely beat by high school girls.
My vote: Bode Miller, because he does things no one else can do, or could do, and he looks very unlike the other top guys.
1. In the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic combined, he fell on the downhill, bounced up (saving the lives of the coaches he otherwise would have careened through) and won silver.
2. In this week's giant slalom in Adelboden, on the first run, he lost a ski pole in a collision with one of the first gates, and on the second run, he ended up doing the splits but stayed on course and came in second.http://www.skiracing.com/news/news_d...hp/2107/ALPINE
3. His line is one no one else on the World Cup can ski. Did you see last week's OLN coverage of the Breckenridge downhill, won by Miller? He was skiing 5 feet inside the line of any of the other downhillers.
4. His approach: He's not out to finish, or even to just win the GS race. He thinks goals are limiting. (Some nice quotes in the Jalbert Productions DVD "Need for Speed" about Miller and Rahlves.) He wants to be the best skier he can possibly be.
5. The impact he's had on the sport. In '97 (I think--around then anyway), he showed up at the junior nationals on a pair of shaped K2 IV recreational skis, and was laughed at by the other racers, all of whom had racing skis, until he won by something like two seconds. Within a year after that, the top racers at the World Cup level had gone to shaped skis. That was the first time a major innovation started at the recreational skier level and spread to the World Cup, not vice versa. And today, the Austrians (and everyone else) are studying how Bode does it. (As one Austrian sniffed, after Bode won the first GS race this year, "if he keeps winning, soon all the young Austrians will be skiing like snowboarders.")
Until this year, you could have argued that he was just a technical racer, and didn't dominate in the speed events as well, like the other greats. (Well, the other greats except Tomba, anyway.) But now he's winning downhills and Super-Gs, and winning the World Cup overall pulling away.