Anton Sailer

The First Alpine Sweep

Toni Sailer of Austria was the first Alpine skier to win three gold medals. He began his record-setting performance in 1956 by winning 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.

The last Alpine race was the downhill. Less than 15 minutes before it was his turn to head down the course, Sailer tightened the straps that tied his boots to his skis -and one of the straps broke. He did not have a spare strap.

Fortunately, the trainer of the Italian team, Hansl Senger, removed his own strap and loaned it to the Austrians. Sailer survived one near spill and won the race by 3 seconds. After the victory ceremony, he gave one gold medal to his father and one to his mother and saved the third one for himself.