Rosi Mittermaier

Innsbruck Alpine Heroine

Although she had been competing on the World Cup circuit for ten years and had raced in both the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, Rosi Mittermaier had never won a major downhill race. However, at the Innsbruck Games, she won the gold medal by a half second.

Three days later she entered the slalom event. After the first run, she trailed German teammate Pamela Behr by nine hundredths of a second. Mittermaier recorded the fastest time of the second run, and her combined time gave her the victory by a third of a second. When the giant slalom was contested two days later, there was great excitement because Mittermaier had the chance to become the first woman to sweep all three Alpine events.

The first skier, 18-year-old Kathy Kreiner, flashed across the finish line in 1:29.13. Mittermaier was a half-second ahead of Kreiner's pace midway through the course, but she approached one of the lower gates too directly and finished an eighth of a second slower than Kreiner. Still, she left Innsbruck with two gold medals and one silver medal.