Born in Kitzbühel on 28 February 1932, Ernst Hinterseer was an apprentice carpenter and highly accomplished skier whose Austrian giant slalom title win in 1954 earned him a place in the national team for Cortina d’Ampezzo 1956. He could only finish sixth as his compatriots Toni Sailer, Andreas Molterer and Walter Schuster complete a clean sweep of the medals.
Four years later, Hinterseer did find himself in among the giant slalom medals , producing a fine run on KT-22 to claim bronze behind the winner, Switzerland’s Roger Staub, and fellow Austrian Josef Stiegler.
In the opening run of the slalom three days later, Germany’s Willy Bogner set the pace with a time of 1:08.8, with France’s Charles Bozon a full second behind and Hinterseer trailing in fifth, nearly two seconds adrift of the leader.
While Bogner’s medal hopes ended when he was disqualified on run two, there was no such misfortune for an inspired Hinterseer. Bold yet precise, he stopped the clock at 58.2, giving him an overall time of 2:08.9 and the gold by a considerable margin from his compatriot Mathias Leitner, who had climbed up from seventh to finish one tenth of a second ahead of the third-placed Bozon.
Along with the USA’s Penny Pitou, who won silvers in the women’s downhill and giant slalom, Hinterseer was the only athlete to pick up two Alpine skiing medals at Squaw Valley 1960 and was his country’s only Alpine skiing gold medallist at the Games, a distinction that saw him named Austrian Sports Personality of the Year award.
Hinterseer went on to enjoy success on the USA professional circuit, winning the title in 1963 before retiring and becoming Austria’s Alpine skiing team coach. Among his charges was his son Hansi, who won the giant slalom World Cup title in 1973 and a silver medal in the same event at the 1974 World Championships and who also represented his country at the 1976 Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck.