Franz Klammer

A Wild Downhill Ride

In 1975 Franz Klammer won eight of nine World Cup downhill races. When the Olympics came to Innsbruck the following year, there was great pressure on Klammer as an Austrian favorite competing in Austria. Defending champion Bernhard Russi exerted further pressure by speeding down the Olympic hill in 1:46.06. The fifteenth starter, Klammer fell one-fifth of a second off Russi's pace, but fought back wildly over the last 1,000m of the course and won by one-third of a second.

According to Klammer, "the best moment was when Bernhard came running up to me and gave me a big hug. It was the most sincere congratulations of all". Klammer became so popular in Austria that when he was left off the Austrian team in 1980, the team manager had to explain the decision on national television.