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Cuche’s serviceman Krause searches new skis to wax

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SCHLADMING, Austria — Chris Krause, who has prepared Cuche's skis for the past six seasons, hardly ever watches when the Swiss standout speeds down the World Cup race hills on his material.

"I never watch. I did a few times but then it didn't go well," Krause told The Associated Press on Friday. "I go to my place and just listen to the split times on the radio. I prefer to watch it later."

Behind the scenes, Krause played a key role in the achievements of Cuche, who had been on the World Cup circuit since 1993 but who earned 16 of his 21 World Cup victories after 2006 — on skis prepared by the American.

Cuche often publicly praised Krause, comparing his lightning fast skis to "rockets" or "bombs."

"Chris has had a huge part in my successes," said the 37-year-old Cuche, who won all six of his World Cup crystal globes — awarded each season by discipline — after Krause joined him. "He works very hard and always comes up with the right wax and the right skis."

Cuche's compliments "give me motivation for sure," Krause said. "And it's really nice that he gives me credit. There aren't many athletes who do that. He is very thankful when he has success and also when it doesn't go so well."

According to Krause, perfectly prepared skis are important at top-level racing, though the skis alone don't win races.

"Important is that the racer has to be in good form and the material has to work," the American said. "You can have the best material but if the racer is not fit or in good form, the good material does not help anything."

The success formula hasn't quite worked as well at this week's World Cup finals. Cuche missed out on both the downhill and the super-G titles, finishing 17th and ninth respectively in the races.

"That was frustrating," Krause said. "But that's life in sport. Not every day is Christmas. The season had some real highlights. He finished second in super-G and third in downhill, that's more than respectable."

The 41-year-old Krause grew up in Wisconsin near Lake Michigan, competed for a regional and later a university ski team, but quit the sport when he moved to study marketing at the University of Utah.

As a student, he started working in a test center belonging to ski manufacturer Salomon. He worked for the Canadian women's team before joining Rossignol in 2004 as a serviceman for Swiss racers Didier Defago and Bruno Kernen, who won bronze at the 2006 Olympic downhill.

After two years, Krause switched to Head to replace Cuche's long-term serviceman Dani Vaquin, who quit in the offseason.

Krause said he was warned by several people that Cuche "was really difficult" to work with.

"But we never once had a confrontation or an argument," the American said. "We had a real open dialogue and shared a lot of information. And when it runs well there is less reason for confrontation."

Krause described Cuche as "one the most genuine human beings you'll ever meet. That makes it a pleasure to work with him. He is not just a big ski star. He really has both feet on the ground and is really humble."

Krause didn't know yet whose skis he will be servicing next season.

"The second half of the season I also did the skis for Canadian Benjamin Thomsen," Krause said. "In Chamonix I helped him out so that's a possibility with him but there is nothing fixed yet. We'll have to see which new athletes come to Head."

A rumor on the World Cup circuit says Head is trying to add Salomon racer Beat Feuz to its team next season and that Krause will become the Swiss overall leader's new serviceman.

"That won't happen, it won't be me," said Krause, who lives in Ruhpolding, Germany, with his wife, former World Cup skier Isabelle Huber, and their two children, 2-year-old daughter Emilia and son Stefan, who was born in January.

"I have no problems with the Swiss but geographically it's too far," Krause explained. "Ruhpolding is 700 kilometers away from Wallis, where the Swiss have their base. I have two kids at home and that's a lot of driving back and forth."

Krause would prefer to work with a team "that does more block training, so you go somewhere for three weeks, you're fixed, and you go home for three weeks."