Arosa duo score giant slalom double
Team-mates at Arosa Ski Club in Switzerland, Yvonne Rüegg and Roger Staub both had medals in their sights at Squaw Valley 1960. The 28-year-old Rüegg won the Swiss women’s downhill title in 1959, while Staub, five years her junior, came within nine tenths of a second of bronze in the men’s downhill at Cortina d’Ampezzo 1956, a race won by Toni Sailer of Austria. Staub went one better in the same event at the 1958 FIS World Championships at Bad Gastein (AUT), winning silver, while also picking up bronze in the giant slalom and the combined.
Staub was the first of the Arosa duo in action at Squaw Valley, lining up on the slopes of KT-22 for the men’s giant slalom, which was then a one-run event. Pepi Stiegler, the third skier down the mountain, set what looked to be an unbeatable time of 1:48.1, with Staub, wearing the No6 bib, moving into second place behind him in 1:48.3.
The standings would remain the same until the judges announced that Stiegler’s time was incorrect and that he had actually clocked 1:48.7, a correction that gave Staub the gold medal ahead of Stiegler and fellow Austrian Ernst Hinterseer. Chaired around the arrival area by his team-mates, the new Olympic champion would later finish fifth in the downhill before being disqualified in the slalom.
Watched by another big crowd, the women’s giant slalom took place three days later on Little Papoose Peak. The third skier to go out, Rüegg defied her status as an outsider for gold with a fast, error-free run, posting a time of 1:39.9, which none of her rivals could match. The USA’s Penny Pitou came closest of all, finishing one tenth of a second off the pace to win silver, with the bronze going to Italy’s Giuliana Chenal-Minuzzo.
Rüegg later married the Italian skier Roberto Siorpaes (the brother of the Olympic medal-winning bobsleighers Sergio and Gildo Siorpaes), moving to Cortina d’Ampezzo and becoming a ski instructor.
Meanwhile, Staub called time on his amateur sporting career and skied on the professional circuit in the USA before opening a ski school in Arosa, where he also ran a sports shop. In 1974, his life was tragically cut short when he was killed in a hang-gliding accident.