GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany — Rosi Mittermaier, who won downhill and slalom gold medals at the 1976 Winter Olympics and narrowly missed a sweep of all three women’s Alpine skiing events at the Games, has died. She was 72.
German news agency dpa cited a statement from Mittermaier‘s family that she died peacefully on Wednesday “following a serious illness.”
Mittermaier won West Germany’s only two gold medals at the 1976 Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
She nearly became the first woman to win three Alpine skiing gold medals at the same Olympics but missed out by .12 seconds to Canada’s Kathy Kreiner in the last event, the giant slalom, and took the silver. Nicknamed “Gold-Rosi” in Germany, Mittermaier also won the World Cup in 1976 - becoming the first German to do so - before retiring at the end of the season aged 25.
Mittermaier‘s Olympic successes made her a celebrity in Germany, and in a 2020 interview with dpa she recalled her postman’s difficulties delivering 27,000 letters of fan mail to her parents’ mountain home in a single month. Mittermaier worked as a TV sports commentator and was well known in Germany for her support of charitable causes.
Mittermaier was part of a storied skiing family, with her sisters Heidi and Evi, her husband Christian Neureuther and their son Felix Neureuther all competing at the Olympics.
“Rosi Mittermaier was a very charming and credible ambassador of sport, who always approached people openly and in a humble way. She inspired all of us with her warmth and her smile,” International Olympic Committee president and fellow German Thomas Bach said in a statement. “For all these reasons, and not only because of her two Olympic gold medals, she will always be remembered as ‘Gold-Rosi’ by all of us.”
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