Austrian Ski Legend Toni Sailer Dies

Posted By: The Ski Channel on August 27, 2009 12:20 pm

One of the greatest skiers in history—Toni Sailer, died Monday, Aug. 24 at the age of 73. The Austrian ski racing legend easily won all three gold medals at the 1956 Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy and was a regular force on the World Cup circuit.

“As an athlete, Toni Sailer brought global recognition to alpine ski racing with his Olympic gold medal sweep in Cortina along with wins at the classic races in Wengen and Kitzbuehel,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Bill Marolt. “As a leader, Toni devoted a lifetime to his sport and his impact is still being felt 50 years later.”

Sailer’s success at Cortina occurred as the Olympic Games were broadcast live on television for the first time. As a result, his medal sweep put Austria on the map as an Alpine skiing force. In 1999, Sailer was recognized as Austria’s Sportsman of the Century.

The Austrian ski star had retired from racing in 1959, yet served key roles within the Kitzbuehel Ski Club and the Hahnenkamm races. In 1993 he took on leadership of the FIS Alpine Committee, steering the sport through a great period of growth, serving as chairman until his passing.

Sailer’s funeral will be held at the Hahnenkamm finish on Aug 29 at 11 o’clock with a procession through the streets of Kitzbuehel (to the cemetery) to follow. Representatives of the Republic of Austria, the province of Tyrol, Kitzbuehel, the Kitzbuehel Ski Club, and the Austrian Ski Federation and FIS are set to speak at the ceremonies.

Sailer’s wife Hedi and son Florian have requested a donation to Toni Sailer Sports in lieu of flowers.