Host City: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Venue(s): Gudiberg, Garmisch-Partenkirchen; Kreuzeck Area, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Date Started: February 7, 1936
Date Finished: February 8, 1936
Format: One downhill run and two slalom runs, point tables determined placement.
|Bronze:||Laila Schou Nilsen|
FIS organized the first Alpine World Championships in 1931 with slalom and downhill for both women and men. In the next edition of the Championships in 1932, the Alpine Combined was introduced as a new event, combining the results from downhill and slalom. The IOC decided to include Alpine Combined in the Winter Olympic program in 1936 for both sexes, the first skiing event for women in the winter games. The downhill event for both women and men was held on the first day of the games, and a crowd of 40,000 gathered around the finishing area at the slopes of the mountain Kreuzjoch. The ladies course had a length of 3,300 m. and a fall of 820 m.
The German Christl Cranz was the heavy favorite. She had won gold in the combination in the World Championships in both 1934 and 1935 and was the big star of the strong German team, which also included Lisa Resch (silver at the 1934 World Championships) and Käthe Grasegger (bronze in 1935). Like the fourth girl on the German team Hadi Pfeifer, both Resch and Grasegger were competing on home ground, they all represented the local ski club.
Resch took an early lead, and after 12 women had finished, the German girls had the four best times, to the great satisfaction of the home crowd. But the 16-year old Norwegian school girl Laila Schou Nilsen, unknown to the alpine skiing world, shocked the audience. Wearing start number 16, she crossed the finishing line in a time 4 seconds better than Resch. Laila Schou Nilsen was until then only known in speed skating circles. She had won the unofficial World Championships at Oslo in 1935 when only 15 years old, and was also a promising cross country skier. Since her favorite sport was not held at the Olympics for women, Laila started to train in alpine skiing, and surprised the Norwegians by winning the national selection races and qualified for the games as the youngest member of the Norwegian team.
The slalom event for ladies was held the day after the downhill, and the same course, with a length of 600 m. and with 23 gates, was skied in both rounds, with a descent of 200 m. In the first round the young Norwegian spoiled her chances for a gold medal by receiving a penalty of 6 seconds for missing one of the gates. Cranz was an excellent slalom skier and was in a class of her own in both rounds, as she won a convincing gold. Her total slalom time was 11.3 seconds faster than the second best, teammate Grasegger, who advanced to silver position. Nilsen skied a good race in the second round and was only beaten by Cranz, thereby winning a most unexpected Olympic bronze medal for the Norwegians.
Christl Cranz continued her skiing career until 1941, and eventually won 12 world titles, the most in the history of the World Alpine Championships. The multi-talented Nilsen went back to speed skating for a period, winning the world championships both in 1937 and 1938. In 1937 at Davos she crushed the world records at all distances, and, of course, also in total points. During her career she won 4 national titles in speed skating, 10 in alpine skiing, 74(!) in tennis (her tennis career lasted from 1937 to 1961), and 4 in handball, in addition to 12 matches for the national handball team. She also competed in the Monte Carlo Rally four times. Her administrative career included 4 years as vice president in the Norwegian Olympic Committee (1969-73).
|3||Laila Schou Nilsen||16||Norway||NOR||Bronze||93.48|
|8||Jeanette Kessler||27||Great Britain||GBR||83.97|
|9||Evie Pinching||20||Great Britain||GBR||82.19|
|14||Gratia, Baroness Schimmelpenninck van der Oye||23||Netherlands||NED||76.09|
|19||Elizabeth Woolsey||27||United States||USA||69.24|
|21||Helen Boughton-Leigh||30||United States||USA||67.46|
|23||Birnie Duthie||30||Great Britain||GBR||66.13|
|24||Nives Dei Rossi||26||Italy||ITA||66.06|
|25||Helen Blane||22||Great Britain||GBR||64.84|
|27||Clarita Heath||19||United States||USA||59.89|
|AC||Mary Bird||25||United States||USA||DNF|