Saturday, February 1, 2014

Olympic Legends in Alpine Skiing (1)

Anton "Toni" Sailer was born in Kitzbühel (Tirol, Austria). Sailer was known as the “Blitz from Kitz” for his daring and thrilling skiing style. Toni Sailer became the first man to sweep the Alpine skiing events at the Winter Games, winning gold medals in Downhill, Slalom and Giant slalom in Cortina d'Ampezzo in 1956, aged just 21. Firstly he won the Giant Slalom by 6.2 seconds. This is still the largest margin of victory in the history of Olympic Alpine skiing. Two days later he won the slalom by 4 seconds, recording the fastest time in both runs.

Jean-Claude Killy was born in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris (France), during the Nazi occupation, but was brought up in Val-d'Isère in the Alps, where his family had relocated in 1945 following the war. France’s Jean-Claude Killy repeated the feat on home soil in Grenoble in 1968 to etch his name into Olympic history. Killy became the second man to sweep the Alpine skiing events at the Winter Games, winning gold medals in Downhill, Slalom and Giant Slalom.

Franz Klammer was born in Mooswald, (Austria). Following Killy’s heroics in 1968, one of the most memorable performances in the history of the Winter Games came in Innsbruck in 1976, when Austria’s Franz Klammer – the reigning Downhill World Cup champion – flew down the slopes of Patscherkofel to beat defending Olympic champion Bernhard Russi by just 0.33 seconds, much to the delight of the Austrian fans. He won 25 World Cup Downhills, including four on the Hahnenkamm at Kitzbühel.

Alberto Tomba was born in Bologna (Italy) and raised in Castel de Britti, a village in the municipality of San Lazzaro di Savena. Tomba was a charismatic skier, popularly called Tomba "la Bomba", who became the first Alpine skier to win medals at three Olympic Winter Games. Alberto Tomba dominated the Slalom and Giant Slalom events at the Games between 1988 and 1994, winning three golds and two silvers. He won two World Championships, and nine World Cup season titles; four in Slalom, four in Giant Slalom, and one overall title.

Born in Oslo, Kjetil André Aamodt was an all-round alpine skier. Aamodt participated in all alpine skiing disciplines in the World Cup and World Championships, and is one of only 5 male alpine skiers to have won a World Cup race in all five disciplines.
Three months before the 1992 Albertville Winter Games, Kjetil André Aamodt was hospitalised with mononucleosis. Yet despite losing 11kg, he managed to recover in time to claim gold in the Super G and bronze in the Giant Slalom.
At the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games, Aamodt won two silver medals in the Downhill and the Combined and a bronze in the Super G.
Eight years later at the Salt Lake City Winter Games he won two more golds.
At the 2006 Turin Winter Games, Aamodt’s hunger for medals remained as strong as ever. Fourteen years after his first Olympic title, he once again claimed the gold medal in the Super G event. His career haul of eight medals extended his own record and he remains the most decorated skier in Alpine skiing. He is also both the youngest and oldest male Alpine skier to win a gold medal at the Games.

Hermann Maier was born in Altenmarkt im Pongau (Salzburg). Maier's parents managed a ski school in Flachau. When he was fifteen, a growth disorder forced him to give up the sport temporarily, during which time he worked as a bricklayer.
Hermann Maier qualified to enter four events at the Olympic Games in Nagano in 1998. During the Downhill he lost control and took a spectacular fall, flying more than 100 m through the air and crashing through two retaining fences before coming to a stop. Incredibly, he not only survived without serious injury, but three days later he raced in the Super-G and won the gold medal. Three days after that he earned a second gold medal in the Giant Slalom.
During the 2000-2001 World Cup season, Maier tied the men's single season record for most victories (13). Injured in a motorbike accident, he had to withdraw from the Salt Lake City Games. Living up to his nickname, "The Herminator", at 34, Hermann Maier was not only present at the Turin Games in 2006, but he also won two medals: silver in the Super G and bronze in the Giant Slalom.

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