The Seventies

The Post-Championships

The 1970 World Ski Championships achieved a strong impact on the development of the Gardena/Gröden Valley. In the years right after the Championships, the (money and non) aristocracy of Europe (e.g. Sachs, Flick)flocked into the valley by helicopter. However, we were fully unprepared to be up to this elite level, as by the end of the sixties most of the hotels of Selva/Wolkenstein, due to refurbishing, were short of money and unable to offer top treatment. However, it took only a couple of years until they were able to double their room capacities. The 1970 had been financed, directly and indirectly, by the Italian Government, by the Trentino/South Tyrol region, and by the local South Tyrolean provincial government with a total of about 9.000 million liras and the local authorities of the valley hadn’t to come up but with 0,5% of the total expenditure.

The 1975 Finals

After the successful but tiresome organization of the Championships, it wasn’t that easy to begin from scratch again, until Erich Demetz, by founding a “Coordinatin Committee Gardena/Gröden) proposed to the FIS to organize a World Cup event which as of 1972 has become part of the yearly world cup circuit. The 1975 Finals became a historical event, when the three leading competitors Franz Klammer (21 years), Ingemar Stenmark (19 years), and Gustav Thöni (24 years) had to run the final event, a parallel slalom at Ortisei/St.Ulrich, all three of them with an equal amount of world cup points (240). Klammer was ousted right at the beginning by Helmut Schmalzl (at present FIS race director). The final race was run between Thöni and Stenmark. When they were ready for the start, 40.000 spectators held on their breath and when departed, a roar filled the valley. They did the run almost parallel until the third last gate when Thöni succeeded in beating Stenmark, to the delight of the public. These Finals also proved to be historic for the innovation of having for the first time a sponsor: Parmalat had bought sponsor rights for 25 million liras, thus opening new horizons for alpine ski race sponsoring.


With Thöni’s victory, the "blu avalanche" of Italy showed a steady decline and also showed the end of technical events in the valley, where mainly downhill talents were promoted. There was, though, and italian victory 1977 with Herbert Plank, but it took twenty years to see another italian racer on the podium (Ghedina 1996, 1998, 1999) while Peter Müller also ahd three firsts (1979, 1980, 1988) and only "emperor" Franz Klammer succeeded four times (1975, 1976, 1976, 1982).

"Lost times"

A strange thing happened in 1978 when after competitor No. 9 (Sepp Walcher) the time taking equipment went out of order. The event was repeated and won by Erik Haker (NOR) who already in the first run was first when interrupted. Second was Peter Müller who in the following year would win the Saslong d.