The ski cross team of the Austrian Ski Federation OESV is starting the 2022/23 World Cup season with a new sports director. Markus Gutenbrunner replaces Sabine Wittner, who has held this position since the ski cross division was included in the Austrian Ski Association in 2007.
From 2001 to 2010, Gutenbrunner worked in various coaching positions for the Alpine Skiing Ladies team at the Austrian Ski Federation and he has also worked for the Lower Austrian and Chinese Ski Associations. Most recently, as head coach, he was in charge of the Austrian alpine disabled sports team, which won no fewer than eleven medals at the 2022 Paralympics in Beijing (CHN).
“Taking over the ski cross team as sports director is an interesting and exciting task. The medium and long-term goal is to be successful at the 2026 Olympic Games in Italy and at the 2027 home World Championships in Montafon. We have to lay the foundation for this with consistently good performances in the World Cup, ideally starting at the first race of the coming season. We will work intensively on achieving the sport success through our passion for ski cross,” explains Markus Gutenbrunner.
The first step is to evaluate the current situation in discussions with the coaches and the athletes. “Another focus for me will be youth work. In order to be able to achieve success in the long term, it is necessary to focus youth work more specifically on ski cross, with athletes starting with the specific discipline from the last school year or the first FIS year,” Gutenbrunner states. As the third important pillar next to the World Cup and youth work, Gutenbrunner mentions the ski cross infrastructure. "Here we must not miss an opportunity to make improvements."
Sabine Wittner leaves a legacy after over 20 years of service
Since the first races in 1998, Sabine Wittner has been involved in the further development of ski cross - not only in Austria but also internationally.
“Especially at the beginning I did a lot of development work. With the inclusion at the OESV in the 2007/08 season, ski cross has experienced a major upgrade. In my work at the OESV, I have gained a lot of valuable experience and made numerous friends. I'm extremely grateful for that," said Wittner, who now works in the private sector.
The greatest successes of the Wittner era include the double victory at the 2009 World Championships in Inawashiro (JPN) by Andreas Matt and Thomas Zangerl, winning the 2010 Olympic silver medal in Vancouver (CAN) by Matt, who also won the overall World Cup in 2010/11, as well as World Championship gold for Andrea Limbacher at the home soil World Champs 2015 at Kreischberg.
"We are delighted that we have been able to win Markus Gutenbrunner as the new sports director for ski cross, who will certainly enrich the division with his great expertise and commitment. At the same time, it is very important to me to thank Sabine Wittner for her tireless efforts over the past years. She has had a significant influence on the development of ski cross in recent years,” emphasizes OESV president Roswitha Stadlober.