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One year ago: Toni Sailer

August 24, 2010 |  6:15 am

Sailer In 1956, Toni Sailer of Austria became the first skier to win three Alpine gold medals at a Winter Olympics. It wasn't easy.

After having finished first in the slalom and giant slalom at Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, Sailer broke the strap connecting his boot to his ski just before he was to race in the downhill event. It was Hansl Senger, the trainer for the Italian ski team, who came to the rescue and lent Sailer the strap from his bindings. With his equipment in order, Sailer was able to race and complete the course 3.5 seconds faster than the silver medalist.

He was far superior to the other skiers in the previous races too, having won the slalom by four seconds and the giant slalom by 6.2 seconds.

French skier Jean-Claude Killy was the next skier to win all three Alpine gold medals, in the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France.

Sailer, who died one year ago at 73, was named Austria's sportsman of the century in 1999.

Read more in the Toni Sailer obituary that ran in The Times.

-- Claire Noland

Photo: Toni Sailer during his gold-medal run in the men's downhill race at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Credit: Associated Press