Val Gardena/Gröden bids Farewell to “its” FIS Race Director

Of all things in his last year as FIS Race Director, Helmuth Schmalzl had to put in a few extra working shifts due to the precarious snow conditions during the snow check here on the Saslong this year. The overtime paid off with a superb Downhill being raced today. Organizers bid farewell to its local FIS man with a perfect race and also a special gift.

Schmalzl and the Saslong: those two names go together. The 64-year-old Helmuth Schmalzl started his first World Cup races on the Saslong in 1969, came to a fall during the World Championships as a racer over the Camel Humps, was Safety Director of the World Cup course in Val Gardena/Gröden and served as FIS Race Director and thus continued to work on the Saslong for the last 15 years.

Tonight, Mr. Schmalzl made his last official appearance during the Team Captain’s Meeting in Val Gardena/Gröden. Unbelievable, but true: In all his career, Schmalzl had never participated in this meeting before. “Better late than never” he added. Saslong Race Director Rainer Senoner bid farewell on behalf of the Organizers and expressed his gratitude for the support Mr. Schmalzl has lend in his role of FIS Race Director. “Helmuth is from Val Gardena/Gröden, raced in the WC, made history in the 1975 World Cup finals and worked closely with us all these years. We owe him a huge thank you.” A pair of ski touring skis were presented as a farewell gift to Mr. Schmalzl who explained the reason for this gift: “After complaining to Mr. Senoner that I scratched my skis during the snow checks due to the lack of ski, he returned the favor with a new pair of skis.”

Mr. Schmalzl’s role as FIS Race Director encompassed working on the preparation and the course setting in the World Cup as well as for the Olympic games and the World Championships. Mr. Schmalzl will be succeeded by former Downhill Champion Hannes Trinkl. Mr. Trinkl was already in action this year working alongside Marks Waldner.