Saslong Classic Club / Gardena - Gröden
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Markus Foser and his Record for Eternity


On December 17, 1993, Markus Foser made international ski sports history on the Saslong. With big number 66, the man from Liechtenstein raced to victory in Val Gardena/Gröden, and to this day, no other racer with a higher starting number has won a World Cup downhill. Thirty years after his triumph, Foser returns to Val Gardena/Gröden as part of the 56th Saslong Classic, and we had the opportunity to interview the affable former racer beforehand.

Mr. Foser, what emotions will you bring with you to this year's Saslong Classic?
They will be very pleasant emotions. When I can come to South Tyrol, that is always something very special in and of itself. The beautiful area, the friendly people – everything fits together perfectly for me here. Of course, the victory in 1993 makes it even more special. The last time I was in Val Gardena/Gröden was in 2017 for the big 50th-anniversary celebration, and unfortunately, I haven't made it back since. So, the anticipation is already great.

What comes to mind when you think of December 17, 1993?
Firstly, I naturally think of all the commotion that ensued after my surprise victory at the finish line. It took me several minutes to realize that I had won. However, I also like to think back to Marc Girardelli on that day, whom I had teased a bit at the hotel.

Why, what happened there?
I’s somewhat of a prankster and known for my easygoing nature. After the inspection, we returned to the hotel, and Marc Girardelli, following his routine, was eating an apple strudel with vanilla sauce. I walked past him and provocatively said, 'Watch out, the race only starts after starting number 30.' As fate would have it, Girardelli had starting number 30 and took the lead in the race.

But the champion from Luxembourg hadn't sealed the deal just yet...
No, because first, the then very young Werner Franz from Austria with starting number 52 was 0.12 seconds faster than Marc Girardelli. And then came my run over Kamelbuckel, Ciaslat, etc., and I managed to outpace Franz, whom I had beaten the week before in a European Cup race in Val Gardena/Gröden, by 19 hundredths of a second. With starting number 66. That is still a record to this day.

Did you realize immediately what had happened when you crossed the finish line?
No, not at all. I had a good feeling because my run was actually okay. I thought I might have finished in the top 6. Werner Franz congratulated me right away, but it still hadn't sunk in for me. It was only after a few minutes that I understood my name was at the top of the results list. It was incredible. And then the marathon with the awards ceremony, countless interviews, etc., began. It was madness – in a positive sense!

Do you still remember the run?
Yes, fundamentally. It was a flawless run from top to bottom. At the exit of Ciaslat, I had a really good feeling because I had succeeded in all the key sections. Nevertheless, I never thought I would win.

Many experts at the time spoke of a random victory that only became possible due to changed slope conditions. What is your take on that?
It's true that the slope became faster due to some interval shortenings. But still, it wasn't a purely random victory because I also set the best time in the technical sections. Moreover, I had won a European Cup race on the Saslong the week before. That was perhaps the decisive advantage because I had already had several runs under my belt – unlike the World Cup racers, who could only train once.

In the starting house, you must have noticed that even with high starting numbers, something was still possible. Honestly, did you think it could be a victory?
No, absolutely not. I had imagined a good result, but certainly not a victory. I was in good form, had a lot of confidence after the European Cup win, but a victory – no, definitely not.

A victory that must have been soothing for your soul, especially after a serious injury...
Yes, absolutely. In 1990, I collided with a Swiss conditioning trainer who was on a hill. After that crash, I had many problems, could never ride freely again, and even today, I brake hard before unclear hills. But in that season, I had an extremely good preparation, had top-notch equipment, was relaxed. Everything just came together.

You participated in 38 World Cup races. Besides the victory in Val Gardena/Gröden, which was your most beautiful one?
After my victory, I finished 12th in Val Gardena/Gröden the next day. There, I confirmed that my victory wasn't a one-time thing. In the same season, I also started for the first time in Kitzbühel and finished 18th. But I also like to look back on the European Cup races. I had many beautiful experiences and lived my time as a ski professional very intensely – even without being a serial winner. I enjoyed the small successes and was happy when I could deliver my best.

What do you do today?
I have been working in insurance sales for 23 years, specifically as a customer advisor for Allianz. In my free time, I played a lot of soccer, including with Mario Frick – who played in Italy and is now the coach of Luzern – as well as with Marco Büchel. The three of us practically grew up in the same street. I like to play golf, participate in charity tournaments, and I still go skiing. Regularly, you can also find me in the gym to stay fit. Moreover, I love to travel with my family. ich auch im Fitnessstudio zu finden, um mich fit zu halten. Mit meiner Familie liebe ich es außerdem zu reisen.

Are you still connected to professional skiing?
Certainly, I still follow the races, mainly the downhill events. Otherwise, things went unhappily after disputes with our association, and that's also why I didn't become a coach. I always spoke my mind, and such personalities are not always welcome. My path then took a different direction. But I do keep an eye on our young athletes, of course, and follow closely what they are doing. Perhaps there will be a another person from Liechtenstein winning on the Saslong again someday…

Thank you for the conversation!