Andrea Vianello and Stöckli’s recipe for success
Italian Andrea Vianello, 49, is responsible for Viktoria Rebensburg’s fast equipment. Even all of the different conditions at the Ski World Championships don’t fluster this man.
Andrea Vianello knows how you win medals in Are. In 2007, the man who is Stöckli’s serviceman today helped Julia Mancuso on French skis to a World Championship silver in the combined. Later, the Italian was responsible for the fast skis for Tina Maze. Vianello, 49, has been applying is knowledge and expertise for some 30 years in the World Cup and for six winters now for Stöckli. These days, he is Viktoria Rebensburg’s serviceman.
During the two World Championship weeks, Vianello has been pushed hard for Viktoria Rebensburg’s three races. In the early days, temperatures down to minus 20 degrees Celsius and then above-freezing with rain for the giant slalom. These conditions have put the Italian’s knowledge and treasure trove of experience to the test. “Before the Super G and before the downhill it was pretty clear-cut what we had to do for the races. The giant slalom proved to be much more difficult. The piste was treated with salt and had a totally different character as the downhill run in the days prior.”
Wednesday afternoon, about 24 hours before the start of the giant slalom’s first run it rained heavily. Andrea Vianello got busy with wax in the ski room not far from the finish area to prep the skis for Viktoria Rebensburg. Later, excess wax will be removed by a machine so he can spend time on the edges. After dinner he will return to his station and get busy with the so-called finishing. His work takes place in quiet, every touch precise, and the manner of Vianello’s work underscores the routine perfected from experience. Such unpredictable conditions hardly like winter are not a first for the Italian. When it comes to edges Vianello wants to leave several options open for the Feb. 14 race. A decision about which ski Viktoria Rebensburg will then in fact use to start will not be made by the skier and her serviceman until race day and then not until after a site visit and warm-up. The determining factor is the skier’s feeling, says Vianello. “Viktoria and I will discuss it, but then it is her decision.”
The sequence of this decision-making process is also characterized by huge experience. The 49-year-old serviceman and the ski racer, just about 20 years younger, talk a lot. Viktoria Rebensburg wants information about all of her sports equipment, the Italian says. With Tina Maze, the partnership ran differently, the serviceman says. “Tina had another approach to a choice in equipment. Her demands were just as high as Viktoria Rebensburg’s but in the end she left the decision to me.” In doing so, the responsibility was completely in Vianello’s hands. Here, the current work approach between serviceman and skier is shared. “I have worked with the World Cup for so long and can work with both types. What’s essential is that it feels right for the athlete. I can adapt,” says Vianello with a little smile.
In all of the years of this work and also thanks to all of his athlete’s successes, Andrea Vianello has earned the respect of the community. There are hardly any more secrets among service staff members, but indeed there are various work approaches or preferences, he notes. But I’d rather not talk about the details of that, he adds. And then he returns to the comments he just made and says, “No, actually, there is a recipe for success: The ski brand has to simply sponsor the best athletes. Then as a serviceman I also have an easier job.”
Of course, he plays a part in the success as too the failures of his athletes, says Andrea Vianello. Of course, he is looking forward to the race and the results that come out at the end. And of course he and his athletes would do everything for success and not leave anything to chance. On Feb. 14, the serviceman and his athlete will head off to the start area together. Along with them will be five pairs of skis each designated for different use. “One pair is for the site visit, one pair for the warm-up, and two or maybe three designated for the race.” And then, underscores the Italian yet again, the key is the feeling of Viktoria Rebensburg on a day with difficult conditions. “She is a sensitive ski racer, and she can ski best times. I just try to be there with my work to help her. On the course, she is then alone, and I can hope that my effort works out.”