Bernhard Russi, Olympic Gold, Downhill, Sapporo 1972 (JAP)

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Bernhard Russi, Olympic Gold, Downhill, Sapporo 1972 (JAP)

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Switzerland Videos: Wikipedia: Bernhard Russi (born August 20, 1948, in Andermatt, Switzerland) is a former alpine ski racer. He was an Olympic, World Cup, and World champion in the downhill event.

Russi made his World Cup debut at age 19 in January 1968 at a giant slalom in Adelboden. After two races in 1968 and six in 1969, he joined the World Cup circuit full time in December 1969. A month later, he recorded his first World Cup top ten finish in January 1970 at the Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen. The next month he won his first event, the downhill at the 1970 World Championships, ahead of Karl Cordin of Austria and Australian Malcolm Milne. Two years later at the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, he won the gold medal in the same discipline on Mt. Eniwa. Countryman Roland Collombin secured the silver and a Swiss "double victory." Russi won the World Cup season title in downhill in 1971 and 1972.

Four years later at the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, Russi nearly retained his Olympic title with a very fast time in the downhill at Patscherkofel, but took the silver medal. He finished 0.33 seconds behind Franz Klammer of Austria, who started 15th, the last of the top seeds. Through 2010, no Olympic champion in the downhill has repeated.

Russi retired from international competition following the 1978 season with 10 World Cup victories, 28 podiums, and 52 top ten finishes. In addition to his two downhill titles in 1971 and 1972, Russi was second in 1973 and third in 1976 and 1977. His best finish in the overall standings was fifth, achieved three times in 1971, 1972, and 1977.

From 1948 through 1980, the Winter Olympics also served as the world championships for alpine skiing. During the early seasons of the World Cup, the Olympics (1968) and world championships (1970) were included in the World Cup season standings; these major competitions were excluded beginning with the 1971 season.

Beginning with the 1988 Winter Olympics, Russi has been noted as the designer of the downhill courses for the Olympics. This stemmed from dissatisfaction with the courses at the 1980 and 1984 games; since Russi took over, there have been few complaints.