Hall of Fame Class of 1976
Kathy Kreiner came roaring down the giant slalom course at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria and found that she had the best time for the field and had struck Olympic Gold. To say she was a surprise winner certainly would be an understatement. It was a fairy tale win and was acclaimed by all of North America as a triumph second to none.
Kathy Kreiner was born in Timmins, Ontario, Canada in 1957. She was a product of the junior skiers’ rank in the Canadian system and showed enough promise at age thirteen to make the Canadian Women’s Alpine Ski Team. This was an era when the Canadians were showing some promise in alpine events but not showing particularly well on the world circuits against the very powerful French, Swiss, German or Austrian teams.
At the Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, eighteen-year-old Kathy attacked the giant slalom course in a time of one minute and twenty-nine seconds. This put her in first place in the giant slalom, ahead of such internationally known alpine skiers as Rosi Mittermaier of Germany who placed a close second; Danielle Debernard of France, third; Lisa-Marie Morerod of Switzerland, fourth and Switzerland’s Marie Theres Nadig who placed fifth.
This youngster, who dreamed of participating in the Olympics since the age of ten, earned a gold medal for her native Canada, the only gold medal won by the Canadians at Innsbruck. Kathy became an overnight national hero in Canada.
Kathy remained on the Canadian Ski Team, competing on the international World Cup Circuit, doing well with two second place finishes the following year.
Kathy was a member of the 1980 Canadian Olympic Team that competed at Lake Placid, New York placing fifth in the downhill. Her time was 139.53, two seconds behind Anne-Marie Moser of Austria and just two one hundredths of a second ahead of Heidi Pruess of the United States Team. She went on to place ninth in the giant slalom, fifteenth in the slalom and fourth in the combined at Lake Placid.
Kathy Kreiner and her accomplishments at the 1976 games at Innsbruck sparked a great deal of interest in skiing and the ski team in Canada and was one of the catalysts that vaulted the Canadian Alpine Team into the world prominence they now enjoy.
Kathy Kreiner was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame if 1976 as a special tribute to all North American skiers who have won medals in Olympic competition – as part of the United States Bi-centennial Year.
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