The slopes, the racers, the winners
One of the most remarkable facts are the four distinct finishing areas. Today, such huge organizational and financial efforts would be prohibitive to repeat.
Men's and Ladies' Slalom This course had an exceptional steep finish (48%) with a length of 575 m and a vertical drop of 197 m. The most eye-catching innovation for those times was the men-made snow device which was implemented in Italy for the first time here. In order to participate at the men's slalom it was essential to run a qualifying race. There were protests originating form the first group athletes but to no avail. Anyway, it turned out to be a "once only" matter because it wasn't repeated in later occasions. The qualification runs were done in 17 batteries of 6-7 competitors each and were held on two parallel courses on the Ronc hill. The slalom was then run one day later. The huge audience was obviously cheering at Gustav ThĂ¶ni who had already done excellently in former races. His main "enemies" were the members of the French team. However, due to a big error ThĂ¶ni was fourth only and the race was won by Jean-Noel Augert (FRA) first, followed by Patrick Russel (FRA), and Bill Kidd (USA). In the Ladies' Slalom, the strongest nation was again the French one. Infact, the winner was Ingrid Lafforgue (FRA), followed by Barbara Cochran (USA), and Jacot Michelle (FRA). An anecdote is being told about Ingrid Lafforgue who was accompanied by her twin sister Britt (fore-runner for the two slalom legs) and who replaced her sister, sick in bed, for the prize giving ceremony. Apparently, nobody was aware of this. The only thing which distinguishing the two sisters was a small mole below the eye, known to a very few ones only.
The start was positioned at the top of the Ciampinoi mountain and approximately followed the today's number 3 track. A beautiful but very difficult slope which wouldn't pardon any distraction. As a matter of fact, the first "wall" had been baptized "mother in law" years before the Championships due to its meanness. The finish area was on the "Freina" meadows in the very center of Selva-Wolkenstein. The declination varied from 38% maximum to 24% minimum for the men and 15% for the ladies. The length was 1790 m respectively 1200 m and the vertical drop 447 and 338 m. At those times, the giant slalom courses were rather long compared to today's standards, there were 69 gates and the the two legs of the race were run on two subsequent days. The tension was high because there was more than one nation who could win the race. For the Austrians, the favorite was Werner Bleiner, for the French, any one of the French team could be the winner and the Italian eyes were directed to Gustav ThĂ¶ni. Already after the first run the winner was designated: it was "old" Karl Schranz, age 31. Silver medal was Werner Bleiner, and bronze Swiss Dumeng Giovanoli. Jean-Noel Augert, one of the very favorites, finished fourth. ThĂ¶ni was a great delusion for his fans as he hit an icy part already at gate number 3 and was out in a moment. But also the ladies' race was full of surprises. There was one race leg only, and nobody turned out to be able to beat number 2 starter Betsy Clifford (CAN), barely sixteen years old. Slalom gold medal Ingrid Larrogue (FRA) turned out to be second, and Francoise Macchi, also French, was third.
It was, by general agreement, the most beautiful course of the Championships. A test race was organized in 1969. The starting point is way up below the Cir peaks and could be reached by the Danterceppies cabin lift. The finish area was in the Langental, close by the ruins of the castle of the counts of Wolkenstein from which the village of Wolkenstein-Selva took the name. With a vertical drop of 675 m, a gradient between 42% and 25,5%, the total length was of 2.750 m. Again, the forecast favored the French girls and the only question was who of them would win. However, things took a different direction when Swiss AnnerĂ¶sli Zryd happened to be the fastest one, after having won already the 1969 test races here. Because of her poor results in the past season, due to a spine injure, she had risked not to be nominated by the Swiss Ski Federation. The silver medal went to Isabelle Mir (FRA), nicknamed Mirabelle, and bronze was won by the Austrian Annemarie PrĂ¶ll.
It's identic with the today's Saslong run - the only difference is the different spelling and slight changes of the skiing line in the upper part of the course. The length was (and is) 3446 m, the vertical drop 839 m and the gradients are from 24,5% to 56,9%. Bernard Russi was the big winner of the race. For a few, this was a surprise, but insiders had realized that with Russi a new champion was born. He was 22, a designer of an Andermatt contractor and it was his first year in the team. It was told he had legs like steel, a lot of courage self confidence - an ideal cocktail to become a world champion. A fresh snow fall during the night had modified the course conditions and a good waxing was essential for winning. The Austrian Karl Cordin was leading the race and it appeared as if Russi would be loosing the advantage he had accumulated during the first part of the race. Incredibly, he recuperated all the time during the last seconds of the race when he did a jump in perfect style whereas Cordin clearly showed problems at this passage. Bronze medalist was the Australian Malcolm Milne who had already won the Val d'IsĂ¨re downhill in the same Winter.