Alpine skiing: Kriechbaum to head Austrian women's team

Austria's alpine ski federation named Juergen Kriechbaum Thursday as head of its women's team, replacing Herbert Mandl, who retires at the end of the season after 11 successful years.

Kriechbaum, 46, a former coach with the Austrian women's speed team and most recently youth trainer, has signed a contract for two years with the option of extending it, the federation (OeSV) said at a press conference.

He takes over from Mandl, who has led the women's team since 2002, during which time he helped racers like Marlies Schild, Renate Goetschl and Elisabeth Goergl to three Olympic titles, seven world titles and over 100 World Cup victories.

Kriechbaum now has the difficult task of taking a struggling team to the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year and the world championships in Vail, Colorado in 2015.

Last month, Austria's women won three medals at the world championships on home snow in Schladming, but none in the speed disciplines and not a single gold, compared to Garmisch in 2011 when they nabbed four of the five world titles on offer.

At a press conference on Thursday, Kriechbaum admitted that in the downhill, the blue-riband discipline of alpine skiing, "we still have no winning racers."

But he insisted: "I feel no pressure. We just need to work so that the athletes are fit for big events."