Hannes Trinkl was born in Steyr, Upper Austria, becomingmember of SC Hinterstoder at the age of five. He became part of the Austrian national team in 1986, but multiple knee injuries had him on and off the team for the next six years. From that time on he was a permanent member of the Austrian national team and also one of the top World Cup downhillers for more than 10 years. His first World Cup podium came in March 1993 with third places at Sierra Nevada and in the pre-Olympic race at Kvitfjell. Surprisingly his first World Cup win came in a Super G in December 1993 in Lech/Arlberg with bib number 51, but Trinkl won his first World Cup downhill just one week later in Bormio. In total he won six World Cup races (five downhills and one Super G). In the 1993-94 season he finished second in the downhill World Cup and fifth in the overall World Cup. In addition he participated in two Olympics and won bronze in Nagano in 1998 in a race most notable for the spectacular crash of Hermann Maier. But Trinkl topped this success in 2001 when he became World downhill champion in front of his home crowd in St. Anton.
After his retirement in 2004 Trinkl became one of the vice-presidents of the Austrian skiing federation in 2005. In 2014 he will become race director for speed events in the World Cup. In Hinterstoder the World Cup track was named after him in 2005 – Hannes-Trinkl-Weltcupstrecke.