Very few skiers have been as successful as Katharina Liensberger in the last two seasons.
But despite two world titles, one small globe and three Olympic medals, the 25-year-old Austrian is not worried about being recognized as a world star.
“I wouldn’t say it’s about being a star,” she told Olympics.com in October this year in Soelden.
“I prefer to really show everyone what I love so much, and that is skiing. And if I can give everyone some of the fun I have in skinning, that makes me really happy.”
Liensberger had a breakthrough year in 2021, breaking the slalom duopoly of Mikaela Shiffrin and Petra Vlhova to claim gold at the world championships in Cortina, having already won gold in parallel giant slalom (shared with Marta Bassino).
She then took her first World Cup victories by clearing the final two slaloms of the 2020-21 season ahead of Shiffrin.
In 2022, the growth of the native of Voralberg was hampered by Covid, which affected her first part of the season.
But when the Beijing Winter Olympics came around, Liensberger made it again, and her efforts were rewarded with silver in the slalom and gold in the team event.
“It was an amazing season. It wasn’t easy for me because I had a lot of ups and downs, also because of my health situation, and then all the attention was focused on the Olympics where I knew I had to do my best. And I really did,” she explained.
“So it was just amazing. But in all the previous races it was getting harder because I had Covid in November, I couldn’t start some races so it wasn’t easy for me. So the goal for next season is of course to start every race as fast and as well as possible and keep that going throughout the season as well. my potential? I hope there’s still a lot ahead of me.”
Liensberger: A new team to help her win more titles
After a World Cup season that probably didn’t live up to her expectations (she won her first and only victory in March in Are, Sweden), the Austrian talent is working with a new team:
“I have organized some new things this season because I have new coaches: technical coach, Livio (Magoni)serviceman, Milosz (Machytka) and fitness trainer Giampi (Mutti). Everyone is new and also in our group in the Austrian Federation, the general structure is more or less new and there is a lot of room for improvement,” she said.
“I think it’s always a process where you always have to do more and never stop on your way. You always move forward and then you have to make changes, take on new challenges and then you can improve.
Magoni was part of the technical team that assisted the Slovenian legend Tina Maze win the 2013 World Cup overall title with a record number of points. The Italian also led Vlhova to the historic grand Crystal Globe two years ago before parting ways with the Slovak.
“There are a lot of new aspects to Livio, so we can really work together a lot face to face. So not only does he go skiing with me, he’s always with me in the afternoons and he really wants to have a good overview of my whole day, what I’m doing. And we can actually talk close to each other. So doing something different is really exciting. And yes, I’m really happy to go this way with him now.
Liensberger: The soundtrack to cross-training and olympic training
Magoni is known in White circus for some unconventional training methods.
While training Vlhova, he warmed up with speed skates and took wrestling lessons with a Krav-Maga self-defense instructor.
He even forced the Slovak girl to play the drums to improve her hand-leg coordination. “I’m sorry, but I only play the harp, I already told him!” said the Austrian with a laugh.
That said, the three-time Olympic medalist enjoys cross-training and indulging in outdoor activities such as cycling, rock climbing and windsurfing in the summer:
“I do a lot of sports and I really like the changes, the variations of these many sports. They make me smile all day long. Yes, we have our normal workout program in the gym and all other things like playing tennis or climbing. I really like kitesurfing, but in our region it is not possible. I was also jet skiing on the lake and for me this change, being able to practice many sports, makes me happy.”
Music is another important pastime for Liensberger and helps her keep her balance.
Her passion for playing the harp is now widely known. She also revealed how Rihanna’s song “Fly” inspired her during Cortina 2021.
What was her Beijing soundtrack like?
“I really have a couple of songs for every race. I don’t know exactly the song that was in Beijing. I only remember one song, I think it was a team event and it was “Best of Us,” she said, referring to charity song from the music project WIER.
“I remember we took the bus to the closing ceremony and then we put this song on the bus and everyone was singing it. And it was great because we all felt this enthusiasm. And yes, it was like doing something together. So sometimes a song helps me focus on what I like in the moment and what I want to do.”