Usain Bolt runs as fast as 44kph in the 100m. Christof Innerhofer gets up to beyond 150kph on downhill skiing courses like Wengen’s famed Lauberhorn. Simone Origone once set the speed skiing record at 251.4kph.
So it was all about speed when the two skiers, along with a few other notable members of the Italian ski team, met with Bolt on Tuesday. The Jamaican was in the Italian capital to run today’s Golden Gala meet.
“As far as I’m concerned he’s the No. 1 athlete in the world, so I couldn’t miss this,” Innerhofer told reporters. “He’s the fastest man on the track and I want to be the fastest man on skis.”
Innerhofer, who won in Wengen in January, suggested that putting on a pair of skis might be the only way to catch Bolt, the six-time Olympic champion and world-record holder in the 100m and 200m.
“That would be a good match-up, someone on skis versus Bolt running the 100 meters,” Innerhofer said.
However, there are some World Cup races where it takes skiers just four seconds to get up to 100kph.
“I don’t think he would have a chance there,” said Innerhofer, who took home three medals — one of each color — at the 2009 Alpine skiing world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
The Italian ski team dominated the men’s speed circuit last season.
Innerhofer also won the downhill in Beaver Creek, Colorado, where Matteo Marsaglia won a super-G the following day; Dominik Paris won downhills in Bormio, Italy, and on the famed Streif course in Kitzbuehel, Austria; and Innerhofer finished the season with another win in Garmisch.
So what do World Cup skiers do in June?
“Part of our off-snow training takes place on the athletics track — sprints, long-distance running. So there’s plenty to learn from Bolt,” said Marsaglia, who posed for pictures alongside the Jamaican in a starting blocks pose.
Later, the skiers headed outside to learn some tips from other track stars.
“Bolt is a total champion, it was emotional just shaking his hand,” added Marsaglia, a rare World Cup skier from Rome. “He’s an icon of international sport and even athletes like us look up to him.”
However, do not expect Bolt to start skiing anytime soon.
Innerhofer invited him to join the Italians on the slopes, but Bolt turned down the offer.
“It’s too cold,” Bolt said.