It was this ability to think on his skis that secured his most famous non-Hahnenkamm victory at the Olympic Games in 1976 in front of a ecstatic home crowd in Innsbruck.
He was the last man to go in the final and the hopes of a nation rested on his shoulders.
"Halfway down I looked at the crowd and they were cheering but not that enthusiastically, and I thought I better do something, better change something, otherwise I will not win the race.
"So I changed totally the line, and went all the way up to a fence on a big right hander. I hadn't even inspected up there. I was skiing right on the edge."
It seems the most famous races of them all really are won not beforehand, but in the 100-odd seconds it takes to get to the bottom.