Auto racing has Carol Shelby, cycling has Johan Bruyneel, and the world of Nordic racing has Roman Toferer. When it comes to managing an international team and the research and development of equipment, Roman Toferer is considered the undisputed leader in the world of Nordic racing. He will be attending the on snow demo and working in the booth at Telemark on the Thursday and Friday before the race.
RICK HALLING: I have told some US coaches that you will be at the Birkie. They are pretty thrilled, there has never been an actual Worldcup race director from one of the factories at the Birkie. Companies have sent over technicians, but you will be the first team director. What are your main reasons for attending?
ROMAN TOFERER: We are so excited about the new Red Cheetah technology and we will have this ski for demo at the Birkie. Andrea Henkel used a pair to win Gold at two races at World Championships last week in warm wet snow and Nikolai Anikin and Diane Tremblay used Red Cheetah with old graphics to win the Mora Vasaloppet in crazy cold conditions. But it is not enough that elite skiers are winning with the Red Cheetah. It is very important for us that the skis we make for Worldcup racers are no different than the skis average people can buy at ski shops. A good race design is not only fast, it should also be very forgiving. The fast ski for an elite racer should also be a stable and easy to use ski for average guy.
RICK HALLING: So do you see the Birkie as a good source for input from citizen racers?
ROMAN TOFERER: Exactly, genau!! I want to hear from regular people how they likes our skis, what they think we can maybe do different. And I want to answer questions for them about Worldcup racing and equipment.
RICK HALLING: You are going to get asked a lot of questions about flex and fitting skis. I hope you are prepared for those questions.
ROMAN TOFERER: Sure, that is easy. But I hope the American skiers do not get disappointed with me. Fitting skis is very simple and basic. But I have met many Americans who make it so complicated. I like to talk about fitting skis, but I hope they are not mad at me when talk about how simple it is.
RICK HALLING: A couple of coaches have asked me if you are also on a recruiting mission. Any truth to that?
ROMAN TOFERER: Oh ja sure, there is no question that young US skiers are making the big news on Worldcup. But I must stay quiet about who I see and talk to. Some are still racing NCAA and there are strict rules we must not break about being amateurs and some have contracts with other companies. So, I can not talk about recruitment.
RICK HALLING: America’s most successful Nordic racer, Billy DeMong is on Atomic skis and boots. If you combine the ski team with the Biathlon team, and add in all members at different levels, Atomic has a huge number of American athletes on board. How do you like working with Americans?
ROMAN TOFERER: I like working with the Americans very much. They are very smart about equipment, just like the Germans. And I tell you this, American and German women have opinions. The Russian and Eastern European girls just take the skis and boots and go. You don’t hear nothing from them. But the American girls and German girls tell you what they thinks and you learn so much from them. That is why the Thin Red Line has so many American racers on the team.
RICK HALLING: Thanks Roman, I will meet you at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport.
World Cup racer Claudia Kuenzel Nystad picking skis in the Atomic race room. A surprisingly simple process.