As a nation and as a team, Austria still produces the best Alpine skiers in the world. But in 1960 there is no Toni Sailer in sight, and the Austrians are going to have their hands full on the slopes of KT-22, Little Papoose and Squaw Peak.
For years the Austrians have been saying that young Karl Schranz will someday dominate the Alpine events. Perhaps Schranz is ready now. Blond Anderl Molterer, a silver medalist at Cortina in 1956, is quite likely the finest slalom racer around, quick and brilliant and daring. Yet Schranz has not been skiing up to his terrific 1959 form, and Molterer is perhaps too daring; he still falls down. The trouble which has afflicted Schranz and Molterer and their very capable teammates may be overconfidence. As a result, when the snow settles at the completion of the Alpine events, the new "best skier in the world" could well be a 25-year-old Frenchman named Adrien Duvillard.
Duvillard has always been a rough, strong skier who seemed to lack style and confidence. Now he has all the confidence in the world and has apparently smoothed out his technique as well. First place in such a major European test as the recent Hahnenkamm slalom, to go along with his Hahnenkamm and Még√®ve downhill victories, indicates that he is no longer rough, just very good.
There are other contenders in the men's events—Willi Forrer and the handsome, carefree downhill racer, Roger Staub, make a strong entry for Switzerland—but the real dark horses are the resurgent young Germans: Willi Bogner (18), Ludwig Leitner (19) and Hans-Peter Lanig (24). Bogner, son of the famed stretch-pants manufacturer, could turn out to be sensational, and Sailer himself thinks Willi might have a real good shot at winning the downhill. "The Squaw Valley course has easy turns and straight stretches," says the hero of the Tyrol. "The kind of course where skis run very fast. Bogner stands perfectly on his skis. Schranz and Molterer ski with their arms and legs and don't run so quietly. All that motion is for nothing."
GANGWAY FOR THE U.S. GIRLS
With Bud Werner out, the U.S. has virtually no hope in the men's competition—but the U.S. girls are something else (SI, Feb. 1). Penny Pitou, Betsy Snite and Linda Meyers could place in any of the events. However, the American girls can expect trouble from one who has just arrived on the international racing scene: Traudl Hecher, the 16-year-old baby of the Austrian team. She beat Pitou in the Hahnenkamm downhill and, a week later, showed this was no fluke by winning the Austrian trials over Erika Netzer, a potential gold medalist herself.
Switzerland has a pair to rank with the U.S. and Austria: Madeleine Chamot-Berthod, downhill champion at Cortina, who has been making a comeback, and Annemarie Waser, in Snite's class in the slalom.
Still, the Alpine outlook is relatively simple: watch the Austrian men and Duvillard, the American girls and Hecher. They are the ones to beat.
PERT 16-YEAR-OLD TRAUDL HECHER IS NEWEST STAR AMONG THE AUSTRIAN GIRLS
6. THREE GATE FLUSH
7. THREE GATE FLUSH
8. THREE GATE FLUSH
9. HALF OPEN
[Blue Flag]Blue Flag
[Red Flag]Red Flag
[Yellow Flag]Yellow Flag
AT PEAK OF HIS CAREER, ADRIEN DUVILLARD OF FRANCE COULD BE WORLD'S BEST
YOUNG GERMANS LIKE HANS-PETER LANIG CHALLENGE AUSTRIAN DOMINATION
HIGH LINE FOR SLALOM
A slalom is run in two heats over a rigidly controlled course designed to test the skier's turning technique, reaction time and ability to plan ahead. The course consists of as many as 75 gates made from pairs of poles topped by flags colored in sequence (blue, red, yellow) and covers a distance of about 600 yards. The blending of terrain with some of the trickier gate-settings (hairpins, corridors, flushes) can be made to produce any degree of difficulty desired.
To maintain speed through a typical section of slalom course like the one above, the racer tries to run the straightest line possible, making long, smooth turns that let him keep his skis flat on the snow. To get this effect, the good skier (solid line) goes info his turns high, taking full advantage of the room available to control his line into the next gate. The poor skier (dotted line), turning late and wide, is in constant trouble. His skis slide and his edges chatter on the sharp turns, costing precious seconds and perhaps throwing him out of control so he overruns the next control gate entirely.