Several industry members took notice of a unique binding and plate setup on the Atomic skis Marcel Hirscher used to claim victory in yesterday’s World Cup opener in Soelden, Austria. The fully Atomic-sponsored athlete was asked about his use of a Marker binding and piston plate in the post-race press conference, and in a convoluted reply about setup testing and his close relationship with Atomic, he neither confirmed nor denied the use of the Marker products.
So long as Atomic approved the use, that would seem to be the end of the story. But such is not exactly the case.
On Monday, Swiss tabloid Blick.ch reported that Carlo Janka is up in arms over the fact that his former manufacturer approved Hirscher’s use of a competitor’s product in the 2014 race, a request that was previously denied Janka in past seasons. The Swiss skier switched to Rossignol over the summer.
Swiss downhill coach Sepp Brunner was particularly disgruntled over Atomic’s decision to allow Hirscher to use an alternate binding.
“In 2010, Atomic brought a new binding on the market. Carlo Janka was one of the racers who did not like it. We repeatedly asked for permission to use the old model. But Atomic remained stubborn, even though Carlo was an Olympic and World Cup winner much like Hirscher. That’s why I cannot understand that Marcel can now use a different brand,” Brunner said.
Janka finished 11th in Soelden on his new Rossignol equipment Sunday, just one-tenth of a second off of Ted Ligety and the top 10.
Hirscher had doubts over the Atomic binding, and the specific Marker plate and binding combination he did use in Soelden is designed to perform in unstable conditions. Although Hirscher downplayed the significance of the binding and plate after the race, there is no denying it was part of the equipment he used to claim his first win in Soelden and 10th World Cup giant slalom victory.