Matthias Mayer: Five things to know about the Austrian Alpine skier

Collecting Olympic gold is a passion for this super-G specialist who, away from the slopes in the warm-weather months, loves to spend time in the very same snow (a melted version) as an avid fisherman and water-skier. Read on to learn more about the Austrian ski racer with two gondolas named for him in Kitzbühel.

By Jo Gunston
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

When Alpine skier Matthias Mayer won his Olympic gold medal in the downhill at Sochi 2014 he had yet to even win a race in the season-long World Cup series. In fact, he’d only graced the podium twice in his whole career to that point, which in February 2014, was five year's old. At PyeongChang 2018, Mayer did it again; this time winning gold in his favoured super-G discipline.

So is the now 31-year-old in a position to claim a third consecutive Olympic gold medal at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, which start 4 February?

The short answer is yes. Recent results suggest he could challenge once again.

Mayer sits third on the World Cup table with four out of six super-G events completed this 2021-22 season. In the downhill, after six of eight events, Mayer is fourth. His overall standing across all disciplines is third.

Another indicator of big game-time form was the World Ski Championships in February in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, the location of the 2026 Olympic Winter Games. Here, Mayer did not fare so well coming in sixth in the super-G and registering a 'did not finish' in the downhill after an error on a tricky gate.

However, come Games-time, anything can happen so Mayer is definitely one to watch in the speed events, which start Sunday 6 February with the men’s downhill.

No podiums, no problem

The first World Cup medal Mayer won was silver in the super-G at his home track, the infamous Kitzbühel, in January 2013. The second was at the end of the same year, where he replicated the second-place finish in the same event, this time in Lake Louise, Canada. So two World Cup silvers but no golds.

That top-step challenge was to change on the biggest stage of all – the Olympic Winter Games at Sochi 2014.

The twisty downhill course in Russia proved helpful due to its super-G style, with Mayer coming down first a minuscule amount of time ahead of two other super-G specialists – Italy’s Christof Innerhofer (0.06 seconds behind Mayer) and Norway's Kjetil Jansrud (0.10s).

With this incredible feat, the speed specialist immediately joined Austrian skiing folklore. Alpine skiing is on a par with football in terms of fanaticism in his home country so to win the blue riband event, the downhill, without much podium success thus far, meant the then 23 year old was lauded across the Austrian Alps.

Going on to win the title in the super-G at PyeongChang 2018 cemented Mayer’s legend.

Like father, like son

Two years before Matthias’ birth, his father, Helmut Mayer won silver at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary in the inaugural super-G discipline at an Olympic Games.

Having skied from a young age, Matthias began to race properly every weekend at the age of 10.

“We had one or two races and then there were more and more every year and, of course, my father was my trainer, especially at the beginning. It was always a good time,” said Matthias in 2018.

Young Matthias couldn’t help be inspired by his father’s achievements: “The Olympics was always special to me, because I was around the event my whole life,” he said.

Sochi 2014 Matthias Mayer
Picture by 2014 Getty Images

Nature lover

Alongside snowy climes, Mayer’s instagram feed reveals that his warm-weather interests don’t deviate far from the water-based activities, although this time the water in question is more fluid than during the northern winter months.

Mayer likes river fishing, water-skiing and stand-up paddle boarding in Austria’s beautiful lakes and rivers -- as well as further afield at the likes of Big Sky resort in Montana, United States.

One thing is for sure, Mayer’s love of nature features heavily at both work and play.

Life-changing moments

June 202 was a big month for Mayer as he not only turned 30 but also married fiancée Claudia with both wearing traditional Austrian costume.

Congratulations flooded in from around the world on social media highlighting the tight-knit winter sports community with salutations from the likes of French Alpine ski racer Adrien Theaux, former Italian skier Elena Fanchini, Austrian Nordic combined skier Philipp Orter, and fellow Alpine skiing speedster, the American Steven Nyman.

Naming convention

Mayer has two ski gondolas named after him courtesy of his two wins at the prestigious World Cup race in Kitzbühel, Austria, an event akin to the level of Wimbledon in the tennis world.

The Alpine skiing disciplines run from the 6-19 February at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, which start 4 February.


Get alpine skiing news, videos, Olympic Winter Games highlights and so much more.