Olympics Blog

News about the Summer and Winter Games

« Previous Post | Olympics Blog Home | Next Post »

David Wallechinsky looks back at Franz Klammer

Note: Klammer's run starts 36 seconds into the above video

1976 Innsbruck, Austria, Men's Downhill:
 
In 1975, Franz Klammer of Mooswald in Carinthia won eight of nine World Cup downhill races. When the Olympics came to Innsbruck the following year, there was great pressure on the 22-year-old Klammer as an Austrian favorite competing in Austria. Further pressure was exerted by defending champion Bernhard Russi, who sped down the 3145-meter (1.95 mile) Olympic hill in 1:46.06. The 15th starter of the day, Klammer fell one-fifth of a second off Russi's pace, but fought back wildly in the last 1,000 meters. "I was waiting at the finish line," Russi later recalled, "and I felt the people. I felt the power on the mountain of 60,000 people screaming for their man. Suddenly I felt my personality start to divide. One side was 'I would like to win this race.' The other side was 'If I win the race, the party's over.' I became kind of a fan for Franz."
 
Klammer nipped Russi by one-third of a second. Flushed with excitement, Klammer told reporters that at one point he skied so close to the fence lining the course that "I heard a shout or scream from a lady. I thought I  was hitting her with a pole..... I thought I was going to crash all the way..... Now I've got everything. I don't need anything else."
 
Looking back 23 years later, Klammer told the Rocky Mountain News, "But 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. I beat him and he says 'Franz, congratulations for all you have done.' It still shivers me."

-- David Wallechinsky

The above is from "The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics: 2010 edition" by David Wallechinsky and Jaime Loucky, available in bookstores everywhere or here.

 
Post a comment
If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate.
Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In





Comments (1)

I remember watching the Klammer gold on TV, it's my favorite winter Olympic moment of all time. Franz was on a wild, out-of-control ride down the mountain. Beatty and Gifford were getting speechless, waiting for him to crash. But Franz came through in the clutch... amazing!!


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...


About the Bloggers



Categories


Archives