Manuel Feller | © Saalbach.com
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Rock star skier Manuel Feller

Together with his new helmet sponsor “Saalbach”, the vice world champion is launching into the Olympic season

The Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn is delighted to welcome the slalom skiing vice world champion aboard as a new brand ambassador. The 25-year-old ÖSV (Austrian Skiing Association) slalom and giant slalom specialist Manuel Feller celebrated his breakthrough during last year’s World Cup in St. Moritz. From seventh place in the first run, he ultimately made his way onto the podium in the finale, securing the silver medal. Next to his strong athletic performance, the charming young skier from Fieberbrunn is also well known for not mincing his words and his laid-back attitude.

Manuel, we’re excited to welcome you to the Skicircus as our new brand ambassador. With “Saalbach” as your helmet sponsor, you too are entering the Olympic season with a strong partner on your side. Any chance of a forecast?

“I don’t want to look too far ahead into the season… I always try to focus on the here and now and that’s usually the next day of training! But yes, it’s the Olympic season and as I already said before the World Cup: Whenever I do participate in a big event like this, then it’s to win…”

 

With the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn as your partner and as a Fieberbrunn native, you’re staying true to your roots and continue to represent your home skiing region. How important is home for you?

“Home is very important to me! My roots are in Fieberbrunn — the place and its people have had a huge influence on me and have made me the man I am today. By joining the Skicircus, my hometown became part of one of Austria’s biggest and most beautiful ski areas… And besides that, it also led to two provinces being connected. That’s something special at a time when countries and areas are being separated by walls, rather than being connected with one another ;). In that sense, I’m very proud to represent the Skicircus with Saalbach on my helmet and therefore also the ski area of my hometown.”

You’ve been described as the “Rock Star of Skiing” and also know how to demonstrate that during interviews with your nice, laid-back attitude. Seems like the “Home of Lässig” is the ideal partner for you?

“To be honest, I always have to laugh when I hear the term ‘rock star’ used in connection with me. I don’t even know how that got started — I think that Marcel Hirscher was the one who put that out into the world. I don’t know what exactly makes one a rock star — I can only say that I do what I want to do. I know what I want to achieve — and do it in my way. Because, in the end, if it doesn’t work, I’m the one who has to fix it. And when I do it in my own way, there’s no one else I can blame (which isn’t my way of doing things anyway). You’re always responsible for your own success or lack thereof. And that’s also my way of doing interviews… I am who I am and — nobody is going to change that.

 

Saalbach Hinterglemm is right in the middle of preparations for the 2023 World Cup. You weren’t even born yet during the last Alpine Skiing World Cup in Saalbach Hinterglemm in 1991 — what does a World Cup in your own skiing hometown mean to you personally?

 “Long story short, a world cup in my own skiing hometown would be absolutely amazing! And a medal, no matter the colour, would be the highlight of my career. But that’s obviously still far away. The competition is pretty tough, after all, and I’m not getting younger either — but there’s no harm in dreaming :).”

Green is the favourite colour of any ski racer — especially when the display flashes brightly at the finish line, signifying the lead position. Green, however, also represents a clean environment and the World Cup 2023 in Saalbach Hinterglemm is being organised as a “green event”. How important are sustainability and protecting the environment to you?

“Sustainability and protecting the environment is the number one issue right now if you ask me and it is also very important to me personally. A few examples: As someone who enjoys fishing (I prefer natural lakes, not ponds), there is nothing worse than coming to a fishing area and finding trash everywhere — from car tyres in the water to forgotten chairs and beer cans, I’ve seen it all. What’s even more shocking is what has happened to the glaciers in the last 10 years alone! It’s sad to see how entire cities and stadiums are being built for large events only to then never be used again. That is why I find it to be such a great idea to plan a world cup as a “green event” and make it a symbol of sustainability. 

You recently used “a Fettn hom” in a retrospective interview about your career, which is slang for “having luck” — how important is luck as a ski racer?

“Luck is, of course, part of any sport. But that only really matters during single races. When you look at Marcel Hirscher’s five trophies, for example, there may have been a little bit of luck involved during one of them, but generally, each and every one involved a lot of work on his part — so he really made his own luck! Injuries are, of course, a totally different story. When I think of how many of my friends, team colleagues, classmates had to drop out as a result of injuries and couldn’t get back into the game or couldn’t participate in high-performance sports at all anymore — then I’ve got to say that I probably had the most luck of all!”

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