- 25 Feb 2006
- IOC News
The men’s slalom event that will be raced Saturday afternoon in Sestriere will certainly attract enthusiastic crowds eager to capture the action of the highly technical event. For IOC member Chiharu Igaya, who will be watching from the sidelines, the slalom on the Italian slopes is also certain to bring back fond memories.
Cortina D’Ampezzo in 1956
Fifty years ago, when the Games were held in Cortina D’Ampezzo in 1956, Igaya raced in foggy weather conditions to a silver medal in the men’s slalom event. The Japanese athlete, who was participating in his second edition of the Olympic Games, also became the first non-European to win a medal in the slalom.
From Sixth to Second
In only sixth place after the first run, Igaya skied a faster second run despite several mistakes and found himself in first place. “It was not very sportsman-like but I hoped that no one else would beat me,” he said. Igaya remained in the lead for a few minutes only, however, as Toni Sailer of Austria skied to the gold medal in his second run. Sailer went on to become the first Alpine skier to win three gold medals in an edition of the Olympic Winter Games.
Igaya’s silver medal brought recognition for the Japanese athlete in his home country, and crowds were waiting to greet him at the airport. The Japanese people have also not forgotten one of their sporting heroes, “Though it happened 50 years ago, even today Japanese people remember my achievements,” he said.
An IOC member since 1982, Igaya will have the honour of presenting the three 2006 Olympic medallists with their medals after the slalom in Sestriere.