Toni Sailer - Austrian Ski Legend
Anton Engelbert ‘Toni’ Sailer was born Nov 17th 1935 in Ktzbuehel Austria. He was the son of a Master glazer and would become one of the greatest skiers of all time. The most famous of all Austrian Alpine skiers he competed in Downhill, Giant Slalom, Slalom, and combined.
As a young boy he revealed living in the beautiful mountains of Tirol. He was an avid hiker and astounded many adults with the ease at which he hiked the mountain around Kitzbuehel.
Sailer was a member of the Kitzbuehel ski club, he first stood on skis
at the age of 2! He became a phenomenon when he was a teenager already winning the downhill and combined at Megeve in 1952 at the age of 16.
Toni missed the 1953 ski season due to a broken leg and wasn’t recovered to participate in the 1954 World championships
By 1955 at the age of 19 he was back and ready to ski at his best.
Toni Sailer was one if the early joggers who would run through the wonderful forests surrounding Kitzbuehel, some local people would just shake their head. He believed in the total fitness of the mind and body and was one of the first to practice and develop breathing and stretching exercises. He would practice this techniques before a race.
At the young age of 20 he won 3 gold medals in Alpine Skiing at
The 1956 Winter Games in Cortina Italy.
Toni Sailer was the first in 1956 to win all 3 alpine ski events at the Olympics, and the fifth athlete to win 3 gold medals in the same games He won gold in Downhill, Giant Slalom and Slalom.
He is still the youngest male gold medalist in Olympic alpine skiing, and became a legend in his own time.
Just a year after the end of the occupation of Austria, this young skiing star became a symbol for Austria of rebuilding, renewal and hope after the war, he was an idol for the young generation.
Toni Sailer won 7 world titles in 2 years.
In the World Championships of 1954, 1956 and 1958 he earned
8 medals, 7 of them gold. At the 1958 World Championships he won gold in Downhill, Giant Slalom and Combined Slalom at age of 23,
as well as World titles in the combined.
After his wins in at the World Championships he stared in two hit movies: ‘Der schwarze Blitz aus Kitz’ and “ 12 Girls and 1 Man ”
Due to controversy over his amateur status after being paid for acting and skiing in movies he retired from ski racing in 1959.
He retired from racing after just 5 years, yet he was one of the most successful athletes of all time. Sailer was Austrian Sports personality of the year in 1956,1957 and 1958.
He went on to become a ‘Heimat’- Austrian / German film star and Schlager / folk-pop singer. From 1957-71 he appeared in a number of movies, lite-comedies set in alpine setting where he could demonstrate his great skiing abilities. Toni Sailer had the lead role in 22 films. He also was a stage actor. Up until 2003 he appeared in several TV episodes and made for TV movies.
The skiing sensation also started a professionally singing career at that time and made 18 albums. He was a big hit in Japan and remains well known and respected.
During the 1960s and 1970s he ran a summer camp in Whistler B.C.
From 1972 – 76 he was the chief trainer and technical director of the Austrian Skiing Association OeSV.
In 1976 he married Gaby Rummeny in Vancouver, Canada.
They had one son – Florian. His wife died in 2000 of cancer.
The ski legend was married a second time to Hedwig Fischer in 2006.
Toni Sailers business interests would eventually include his own hotel,
ski equipment, including the first fiberglass skis, they were manufactured in Canada, as well as a line of high-quality ski-clothing still in operation today.
Sailer was the Austrian FIS Charirman.
After 20 years 2006 he retired as chief of the Hahnenkamm race.
For his contributions to the Olympic movement Toni Sailer was awarded him the Olympic Order in 1985 by the International Olympic Committee.
Toni Sailer was named Austrian Athlete of the century in 1999.
In January of 2008 he announced he had laryngeal cancer.
Toni Sailer died August 2009 after fighting cancer for four years, at the age of 73 in Innsbruck Austria.
The Austrian Ski legend is buried in Kitzbuehel. He is survived by his son Florian. His legend of being one of the greatest skiers of all time and his mild-mannered good nature will live forever.
Just recently at the 2015 Kitzbuehel Race opening ceremonies a plaque for him was unveil, as was a 5 m high monument of a black lighting bolt with his signature on it. It will be for all to see at the foot of the Streif – Hahnenkamm Mountain in Kitzbuehel, Tirol.
A stamp in his honor has also been released just this winter 2015.