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Alpine Skiing at the 1972 Sapporo Winter Games:

Men's Downhill

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Host City: Sapporo, Japan
Venue(s): Mount Eniwa, Mount Eniwa
Date Started: February 7, 1972
Date Finished: February 7, 1972

Gold: SUI Bernhard Russi
Silver: SUI Roland Collombin
Bronze: AUT Heini Messner

Summary

Karl Schranz would have been a big contender but he had been banned from the Olympics by a vote of the IOC only days before the Opening Ceremony. Schranz was known for having many endorsement contracts helping ski manufacturers test and design their equipment, and IOC President Avery Brundage, who hated the Winter Olympics, decided to make an example of Schranz, which raised the ire of the Austrians, who threatened to withdraw their entire ski team. But they did not. Even with Schranz present, the favorite would have been Swiss Bernhard Russi, downhill World Champion in 1970 and World Cup Champion in the downhill in 1971-72. Russi had drawn the fourth starting slot, and when he left the starthouse, the lead was held by his teammate, Andreas Sprecher. But Russi bettered Sprecher's time by over 1½ seconds and the time held up for the gold medal. Sprecher would eventually drop to fourth behind Roland Collombin (SUI-silver) and Heini Messner (AUT-bronze). David Wallechinsky has noted in The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics, "The hypocrisy of the IOC's decision against Schranz was shown by the fact that … Russi had allowed his photo and name to be used on matchboxes, car stickers, and newspaper advertisements as part of a large-scale pre-Olympic publicity campaign for a Swiss insurance company." Russi later became known as a designer of downhill racing courses, and has designed the Olympic downhill courses in 1988, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2014.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal T
1 Bernhard Russi 23 Switzerland SUI Gold 1:51.43
2 Roland Collombin 20 Switzerland SUI Silver 1:52.07
3 Heini Messner 32 Austria AUT Bronze 1:52.40
4 Andreas Sprecher 27 Switzerland SUI 1:53.11
5 Erik Håker 19 Norway NOR 1:53.16
6 Walter Tresch 23 Switzerland SUI 1:53.19
7 Karl Cordin 23 Austria AUT 1:53.32
8 Bob Cochran 20 United States USA 1:53.39
9 Josef Loidl 25 Austria AUT 1:53.71
10 Marcello Varallo 24 Italy ITA 1:53.85
11T Giuliano Besson 22 Italy ITA 1:54.15
11T Stefano Anzi 22 Italy ITA 1:54.15
13 Gustavo Thoeni 20 Italy ITA 1:54.37
14 Mike Lafferty 23 United States USA 1:54.38
15 Roger Rossat-Mignod 25 France FRA 1:54.72
16 Bernard Orcel 26 France FRA 1:54.81
17 David Currier 19 United States USA 1:54.96
18 Hansjörg Schlager 23 West Germany FRG 1:55.05
19 Henri Duvillard 24 France FRA 1:55.13
20 Jim Hunter 18 Canada CAN 1:55.16
21 Bernard Charvin 24 France FRA 1:55.33
22 Sumihiro Tomii 22 Japan JPN 1:55.34
23 Malcolm Milne 23 Australia AUS 1:55.48
24 Franz Vogler 27 West Germany FRG 1:55.50
25 Hank Kashiwa 22 United States USA 1:55.60
26 Herbert Marxer 19 Liechtenstein LIE 1:55.90
27 Alfred Hagn 23 West Germany FRG 1:56.04
28 Manni Thofte 18 Sweden SWE 1:56.66
29 Willi Lesch 29 West Germany FRG 1:56.67
30 Willi Frommelt 19 Liechtenstein LIE 1:57.58
31 Reinhard Tritscher 25 Austria AUT 1:58.05
32 Reto Barrington 19 Canada CAN 1:58.29
33 Royston Varley 20 Great Britain GBR 1:58.53
34 Olle Rolén 27 Sweden SWE 1:59.28
35 Masahiko Otsue 25 Japan JPN 1:59.55
36 Peik Christensen 19 Norway NOR 1:59.71
37 Alex Mapelli-Mozzi 20 Great Britain GBR 2:00.28
38 Derek Robbins 20 Canada CAN 2:00.38
39 Dan Cristea 23 Romania ROU 2:01.26
40 Ivan Penev 22 Bulgaria BUL 2:02.16
41 Chris Womersley 23 New Zealand NZL 2:02.24
42 Robert Blanchaer 19 Belgium BEL 2:02.45
43 Konrad Bartelski 17 Great Britain GBR 2:02.71
44 Steven Clifford 16 Australia AUS 2:02.90
45 Resmi Resmiev 24 Bulgaria BUL 2:03.01
46 Sergey Grishchenko 24 Soviet Union URS 2:03.19
47 Carlos Perner 24 Argentina ARG 2:03.69
48 Virgil Brenci 25 Romania ROU 2:04.33
49 Ross Ewington 24 New Zealand NZL 2:04.75
50 Iain Finlayson 20 Great Britain GBR 2:06.50
51 Jorge-Emilio Lazzarini 16 Argentina ARG 2:08.29
52 Ali Saveh Iran IRI 2:11.29
53 Lotfollah Kia Shemshaki 33 Iran IRI 2:16.14
54 Fayzollah Band Ali 32 Iran IRI 2:18.19
55 Gorban Ali Kalhor 19 Iran IRI 2:20.98