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Gustav Thöni, superstar and integration figure

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23 March, 1975. In the picturesque Val Gardena valley, the world's best skiers were preparing to determine the overall winner in a final parallel slalom. The starting position could not have been more exciting, with Franz Klammer, Ingemar Stenmark and Gustav Thöni all tied for the lead. 

However, the rules were different from today's, with strike results – which drop weaker finishes from the rankings – mixing sport and mathematics. Only the Austrian Klammer could be credited with 25 points for victory, and 11 points for fourth place would also have sufficed, as Stenmark and Thöni only had a maximum of ten points at their disposal. But Klammer, not the strongest slalom skier of this pack, would be eliminated in the last 32 against Helmuth Schmalzl. The other two made it to the final – and Thöni won, to the cheers of his fellow countrymen and -women.

It was his fourth overall FIS World Cup victory and one of his last career highlights. The South Tyrolean, who grew up and learnt to ski at the foot of the Stelvio Pass, not only won crystal globes in 1970/71, 1971/72, 1972/73 and 1974/75, but also three Olympic medals (gold in the giant slalom in 1972, silver in the slalom in 1972 and 1976). Thöni was also a five-time FIS World Champion.

The superstar from Val Venosta symbolises the region he comes from. He chose his words carefully, even when he was coaching the great Alberto Tomba. Gustav Thöni was an Alpine phenomenon and much more - as Gustavo Thoeni, he was also a German-speaking idol of Italian sport.