Once a bricklayer, Hermann Maier now works with crystal.
In his first full season on the World Cup circuit, Maier left Saturday's final giant slalom race with a third crystal globe in his collection, assuring Austria's claim to all five men's Alpine titles.Sweden's Ylva Nowen, 28, won the women's World Cup slalom title.
Maier, a former mason and a relative unknown, burst onto the World Cup scene early this season posting five consecutive World Cup victories.
He has since stunned rivals and fans alike, winning two Olympic gold medals in Nagano and crowning his season with the overall, super-G and giant slalom titles.
Leading the giant slalom standings going into Saturday's race, Maier's third-place finish was enough to lock up the title.
"Winning the giant slalom title was one of my biggest goals of the season, especially since I was disqualified once," Maier said. "Now I'm really happy."
Maier was stripped of a giant slalom victory at Val D'Isere, France, earlier this season when he took off a ski to show the label in a forbidden zone in the finish area. Had he not been disqualified, Maier would have clinched the title two weeks ago.
"Of course, the disqualification ended up adding spice to the season," admitted Maier, affectionately known as "The Herminator."
Despite having won just about all there is to win in the sport, Maier insists it is just a start.
"For 28 years, Austrians have been wanting their skiers to win the World Cup overall," said Maier, the first Austrian since Karl Schranz in 1970 to win skiing's biggest individual title. "It's a great feeling to win it. But it's only the beginning of my career.
"I still want to win many more races and achieve many more goals," added Maier, who won four super-G's, two downhills, three giant slaloms and a combined this season.
His teammate, Andreas Schifferer, owns the downhill title and Austrians Thomas Stangassinger and Thomas Sykora hold an unbeatable advantage in the slalom standings. They'll decide the champion on Sunday.
It is the first time a nation has won all five men's titles. Swiss women swept the titles in 1987.
Maier, hampered by a sore back, limited his participation in the finals to the giant slalom.