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Sailer

Racing Great Toni Sailer Dies

Racing Great Toni Sailer Dies

The dashing Toni Sailer among young fans at the 1956 Winter Olympics. Four years later, the hard-shell helmet replaced padded headgear in downhill racing.

Skiing's first leading man leaves a lifelong legacy.

Toni Sailer, a dashing Austrian skier racer who was the first racer to capture three gold medals in the same Olympic Games died earlier this week in in Innsbruck, Austria. He was 73. Sailor, at the age of 20, won all three alpine competitions (slalom, giant slalom and downhill) at the 1956 Winter Games in Cortina, Italy—a feat only matched by Jean-Claude Kelly a dozen years later at the Grenoble, France, Winter Olympics.

Legacy: The Natural

Legacy: The Natural

The dashing Toni Sailer among young fans at the 1956 Winter Olympics. Four years later, the hard-shell helmet replaced padded headgear in downhill racing.

Toni Sailer raced to seven World Championship medals in an improbable 24 months—a record that still stands.

The ski world conventionally remembers Austria’s Toni Sailer as the first racer to capture three gold medals in a single Olympics, winning all the alpine competitions (slalom, giant slalom and downhill) at the 1956 Winter Games in Cortina, Italy. After Jean-Claude Killy hat-tricked again in 1968, no man has three-peated. But to appreciate Sailer’s dominance, you have to know what he did two years after the Olympics—that is, 50 years ago this month. In the 1958 World Alpine Ski Championships at Bad Gastein, Austria, he was in a class by himself.

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