Anton “Toni” Sailer won the slalom, giant slalom and downhill events to complete the first clean sweep in Olympic skiing history.
Born in Kitzbühel, Sailer was known as the “Blitz from Kitz” for his daring and thrilling skiing style. He was the first Alpine skier to win three gold medals at one edition of the Olympic Games.
He made his debut at the 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Games. Firstly he won the giant slalom by 6.2 seconds. This is still the largest margin of victory in the history of Olympic Alpine skiing. Two days later he won the slalom by 4 seconds, recording the fastest time in both runs.
Last minute drama
His last race was the downhill event. Less than 15 minutes before it was his turn to head down the course, Sailer tightened the straps that tied his boots to his skis – and one of the straps broke. He did not have a spare strap. Fortunately, the trainer of the Italian team, Hansl Senger, removed his own strap and loaned it to the Austrian team.
The clean sweep
Sailer survived one near fall before winning the downhill race by 3.5 seconds. After the victory ceremony, he gave one gold medal to his father, one to his mother and saved the third one for himself.