As a child, Canada’s Kerrin-Lee Gartner had had a dream in which she was crowned Olympic champion. In that dream she heard the French words: “Medaille d'or pour Kerrin-Lee Gartner, Canada” (“Gold medal for Kerrin-Lee Gartner, Canada”) pronounced by a stadium announcer. What was particularly incredible about her dream was not just that the detail, nor that it would turn out to be prophetic, but the fact that the announcement was in a language that she didn't speak!
The memory stuck with her in later years, driving her on towards a place among Alpine skiing’s elite. But, having reached such a high level of competition, she struggled to make it to the very top. During a decade of racing, she had taken just a single third place and had also suffered a serious knee injury that required a series of reconstructive surgical procedures to repair. She was a good skier, but not, by general consensus, a likely medal contender.
However, in Meribel, where the Alpine events at Albertville 1992 were held, Gartner was set to defy expectations and see her childhood dream come true in spectacular style.
She had competed at the Olympic Winter Games before, making her debut four years earlier in Calgary. There she had entered five events with a best finish of eighth, while in the downhill, she had placed a modest 15th. That was all about to change dramatically.
As Gartner approached the start gate in the downhill, Germany's Katja Seizinger held the lead having completed the challenging course in 1 minute 52.67 seconds. Garner, though, kept pace with her time, and then gradually overtook it, crossing the line just 0.12 seconds quicker to leave both herself and the crowd in a state of shock.
Others came close to her time but none could better it. Another unheralded skier, the USA’s Hilary Lindh, was just 0.06 seconds off the pace, while Austria's Veronika Wallinger was 0.03 seconds further back. In fact, the top five were separated by only 0.18 seconds, making this one of the closest Alpine races in history. But it was Gartner who took a memorable gold.