The 9 Greatest Ski Racers of All Time

Julia Schneemann | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Crystal Globe
The elusive crystal globe, winning trophy for the annual World Cup Champion, picture: FIS

SnowBrains assembled a list of the ten greatest alpine skiers of all time for our readers. Only one of these ten athletes is still active; the other nine have all retired. To find a numerical measure, we created the ranking by the number of World Cup wins in alpine disciplines.

In reverse order and starting with number nine as we have a tie (ladies first):

9) TIE: Renate Götschl

Nickname: “Wildsau” (Engl.: wild pig after saying about the Cortina World Cup “You have to be a little wild pig, the course can handle it”)

Country: Austria

World Cup Wins: 46 wins

Fun Fact: Renate was immortalized with a wax figure at the famous Madame Tussauds in Vienna for her total of 110 World Cup podiums, which are the third most women’s World Cup podiums (most podiums for women goes to Lindsey Vonn).

Renate Götschl
Renate Götschl, 46 World Cup victories, picture: KLZ

9) TIE: Marc Girardelli

Nickname: “The Renegade”

Country: Luxembourg

World Cup Wins: 46 wins

Fun Fact: Even though Marc was born in Austria, he competed for the Duchy of Luxembourg after a falling out with Austrian coaches and was coached by his father for long parts of his career. After retiring from racing, he invested in an indoor ski center in Germany and later started a ski clothing line and a retro ski series. He is the majority shareholder in the company that operates Bansko ski resort in Bulgaria and an honorary citizen of Bansko.

Marc Giradelli
Marc Girardelli, 46 World Cup victories, picture: RTL

8) Alberto Tomba

Nickname: “Tomba la Bomba”

Country: Italy

World Cup Wins: 50 wins

Fun Fact: Tall and handsome, Alberto always liked to play up his playboy image in the media. When he won his gold medal in the Calgary Olympics, he asked his dad for a red Ferrari live on TV and asked out German ice skater and gold medal winner Katarina Witt (who famously brushed him off).

Alberto Tomba
Alberto Tomba at the 1988 Calgary Olympics, 50 World Cup Victories, picture: Olympics.com

7) Hermann Maier

Nickname: “The Herminator”

Country: Austria

World Cup Wins: 54 wins

Fun Fact: Hermann Maier has beaten the odds more than once. When he was 15, he was told he was too small to become a successful alpine skier, and he did not debut on the World Cup circuit until he was 23, which is comparably old for an alpine skier. During the 1998 Nagano Olympics, he had a shocking crash during the downhill race, smashing through both b-nets and landing on his head, but came back three days later to win the gold medal in super-G. Then in 2001, Hermann suffered an almost career-ending motorbike accident and nearly had his leg amputated. Doctors saved the leg with extensive reconstructive surgery. Despite missing the 2002 Olympics, he made a successful World Cup comeback in 2003, winning 13 more World Cups until his retirement in 2009.

Hermann Maier
Hermann Maier, 54 World Cup victories, picture: FIS

6) Verena Schneider

Nickname: “Vreni”

Country: Switzerland

World Cup Wins: 55 wins

Fun Facts: This one is not fun but rather sad. Verena, better known by her nickname Vreni, like Hermann Maier, had a late start to the World Cup circuit at age 20. She had to quit school and ski racing at 13 when her mother tragically died of cancer and was forced to look after the household. Vreni is the fourth most successful female skier of all time but probably one of the quietest and unassuming skiers. She also won three Olympic Gold medals and three World Cup Championships. She is the most successful Swiss skier of all time and was awarded “Swiss Sportswoman of the Century.” She retired in 1995. She briefly tried a career as a singer but returned to her passion of skiing and now runs a ski school in her home region Glarus.

Verena Schneider
Verena “Vreni” Schneider at the Lillehammer Olympics, picture: Olympics.com

5) Annemarie Moser-Pröll

Nickname: “La Pröll” (by the French media)

Country: Austria

World Cup Wins: 62 wins

Fun Fact: Annemarie was the most successful female skier of her time. She held the record of most successful female skier from her retirement in 1980 for 35 years until Lindsey Vonn broke it in 2015. Annemarie had a winning percentage of 34.5%, which Lindsey, with 19%, could not beat. Aside from skiing, Annemarie also raced Porsche cars. She was voted Austrian Sportswoman of the Century and World Female Wintersports Athlete of the Century.

Annemarie Moser Pröll
Annemarie Moser-Pröll held the title of most successful female skier for 35 years with 62 wins, picture: Olympics.com

4) Marcel Hirscher

Nickname: The Flying Dutchman (a family joke, his mom is Dutch)

Country: Austria

World Cup Wins: 67 wins

Fun Facts: Marcel now owns a ski manufacturing business, a joint venture with Red Bull called Van Deer. The ‘van’ in the name is a nod to his Dutch heritage, and ‘deer’ in German means ‘Hirsch’. Marcel won an incredible eight successive World Cup Championships during his career, making him the most successful champion by that measure.

Marcel Hirscher
Marcel Hirscher, 65 world cup victories, and eight championships, picture: Redbull

3) Mikaela Shiffrin

Nickname: ‘Miki’, ‘La Shiffrin’, her friends call her ‘Sir-Naps-A-Lot’

Country: USA

World Cup Wins: 74 wins

Fun Facts: Mikaela debuted the World Cup series at just 16 years old. In the 11 years since her debut, Mikaela has won not only 74 world cup titles but is also the only athlete ever to win across all six World Cup disciplines (slalom, parallel slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill, alpine combined). She was also the youngest athlete ever to win 50 World Cups at less than 24 years old. She is the only skier on this list who is still active and is currently only 27 years old, so she still has many years of racing ahead of her.

Mikaela Shiffrin
Mikaela Shiffrin is the only skier still active on this list. She currently has 74 World Cup victories, picture: USSkiTeam

2) Lindsey Vonn

Nickname: Don Don

Country: USA

World Cup Wins: 82 wins

Fun Facts: Lindsey’s goal was to beat Ingemar Stenmark, but she was forced to retire in 2019 after many injuries. She stated that she was finding it harder and harder to bounce back from injuries and retired at 34. Nevertheless, she is the most successful American skier in history. She also holds the record for most female World Cup podiums, having placed 137 times. Lindsey was married for four years to US skier Thomas Vonn. After the divorce, she dated US golfer Tiger Woods for two years.

Lindsey Vonn
The female best race skier, Lindsey Vonn, with 82 victories, picture: USSkiTeam

1) Ingemar Stenmark

Nickname: “The Silent Swede”

Country: Sweden

World Cup Wins: 86 wins

Fun Facts: All Ingemar’s World Cup victories were in either slalom (40) or giant slalom (46). He competed for 16 seasons and podiumed a total of 155 times, making him the best race skier by this metric too. Along with tennis player Björn Borg, he is the most prominent Swedish athlete.

Ingemar Stenmark
Ingemar Stenmark, the unbeaten champion and winner of 86 World Cups, picture: Radisporten Sverige

Mikaela Shiffrin is the only active skier among those ten, so her position might still increase. Other skiers to watch, who could still inch into this list, are Alexis Pinturault from France (34 wins) and Lara Gut-Behrami (also 34), who are both still active.


Related Articles

Got an opinion? Let us know...