Teenager Nadig wins shock double gold
Swiss skier Marie-Thérèse Nadig was an intriguing debutante at these Games. Still just 17, she had been improving steadily in the months running up to Sapporo, securing her first podium finish on the World Cup circuit, prompting suggestions that she could be an outsider for a medal.
She was entered into three events in Sapporo: the downhill, giant slalom and slalom. It was a tough schedule for a young racer, but she seemed to thrive on the pressure and duly rose to the occasion.
Endearingly, the teenager said her main source of inspiration was the film Love Bug, about the little car Herbie who surprises everyone with his toughness and speed. And it was precisely these qualities that she demonstrated in her first event, the downhill.
The firm favourite was Austria’s Annemarie Pröll, herself just 18, but already regarded as the world's best woman skier after winning the overall, downhill and giant slalom titles in the 1972 World Cup. She was the last of the seeded skiers to race, so she knew the time to beat. And that time had been set by Nadig.
The Swiss youngster had stunned the crowd by beating the time of previous leader, Susan Corrock, by a full second. However her lead looked in danger as Pröll began confidently. She clocked a good time, but it was not good enough to take victory. Instead, the 17-year-old Nadig took gold by 0.32 seconds. It was a remarkable achievement.
Three days later, Nadig and Pröll locked horns again in the giant slalom. This time it was the Austrian who skied first, setting a time of 1 minute 30.75 seconds to open up a significant 1.6 second lead over Austrian team-mate Wiltrud Drexel.
Nadig was tenth in the running order, and it was clear that she was the only athlete who was likely to deny Pröll the gold. Her performance was spectacular, and she crossed the finishing line 0.85 seconds quicker than the Austrian to take her second gold of the Games.
It was the start of a long and productive career that saw Nadig rack up numerous podium places on the World Cup circuit, although she did not return to the Winter Games to defend her Olympic titles. Pröll, meanwhile, would eventually win a gold medal, eight years later in Lake Placid.