Rosi Mittermaier is dead, Germany mourns the ski legend who enchanted so many during her lifetime.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen – There are film recordings that are coarse-grained, only a few seconds long, and from a time when Rosi Mittermaier was not yet known. This extract from Super 8 from the 60s says a lot about her.
It’s spring, the official skiing has stopped, but there is still snow on the mountains around the Winklmoosalm, in some places it turns into small streams under the rays of the sun. And then Rosi enters the scene, a carefree girl who takes advantage of the chance of the day to go skiing. She is not wearing an anorak or sweater, but a bikini top. She becomes one with the terrain, with nature, she ripples from pile of snow to pile of snow, jumps over puddles, lands safely, laughs, and the descent continues. Completely in harmony with nature, simple, optimistic. The one who never changes.
Rosi Mittermeier was someone who never claimed
An image of a person who would have often confirmed himself when he was a famous athlete, a German legend. An image everyone remembered when the shock news broke on Thursday, January 5, 2023: Rosi Mittermaier-Neureuther had died the previous evening at the age of 72. She had cancer, she had known it since August. She walked with her family.
In TV news obituaries, Rosi stands near a mountain lake, holds her smartphone in her hands and calls it “Kastl”, which she actually doesn’t need at all, because it’s much more profitable not to deal with virtual worlds, but with real, “and right now to look at a flower”.
Rosi Mittermaier has not gone public with her cancer
The most famous and enduring photos were taken by Rosi Mittermaier in February 1976. The women’s ski races at the Innsbruck Winter Olympics were held on the Axamer Lizum. People were carrying them on their shoulders from the finish area, many German supporters had crossed the border from Bavaria, and in three quarters of an hour you were at 1600 meters in the local mountains of Innsbruck.
A brass band sounds, people crowd against the fences and sing: “Rosi, Rosi, once again, it was so beautiful. The song was even released on record afterwards.
Olympia does Rosi Gold Rosi
In reality, those Olympics had been awarded to Denver in the United States, which had been overwhelmed by rising costs three years earlier. Innsbruck, host since 1964, stepped in. The games came very close to Germany. Rosi Mittermaier, then 25, had the best season of her career and was one of the first in the overall World Cup standings.
But what she delivered to Axams exceeded all expectations. She started by winning the downhill, a surprise as she was known to be a good technician in the World Cup but had never won a sprint race. The second gold medal followed, in slalom, that was his thing. But even this triumph was not easy, because with Pamela Behr from Sonthofen leading after the first round, and Christa Zechmeister from Berchtesgaden, there was strong internal competition alongside international competition.
Rosi Mittermaier: German skiing heroine at the 1976 Olympics
Mittermaier missed the possible third Olympic victory in the giant slalom by twelve hundredths of a second. Perhaps it was their “bad luck” that in 1976 this competition was held in one round. In a second, she could have intercepted 19-year-old Canadian Kathy Kreiner. But whatever? Rosi Mittermaier radiated no less. “Winning wasn’t really important to me,” she said several years later. “Above all, I wanted to have friends.”
She knew how to have fun – and was happy for the young competitor. Two golds and one silver (and more than the three classic disciplines were not yet on the Alpine Olympic program) – it stood out, it had never happened before in German Games history of winter. And then, almost 50 years ago, the Federal Republic was not a country that would have contented itself with winning medals on the slopes of the mountains, in the cross-country ski trails and in the ice chutes. The skier from Reit im Winkl was the only German Olympic champion in 1976, and apart from her three medals, there were only seven more for the whole team. Above all, the Soviet Union (13 times gold) and the GDR (7) dominated the scene – but no one had an athlete with that authentic charisma, the distinctive laughing dimples.
When Christian Neureuther fell in love with Rosi Mittermaier: “Two mats and two dimples”
Germany had a collective, heavy crush on Rosi Mittermaier. But he already suspected that Rosi’s heart had been taken long ago. For Christian Neureuther, the slalom skier, who has won the World Cup several times, always showed nervousness during major events, but was also someone who went through life with a good mood and a positive aura.
Christian later told colleagues at ARD, for whom he worked for a long time as an expert, how the first sight of Rosi – she 15, he 16 – had grabbed him: “The face framed by two mats and two dimples. he was known: It’s him and no one else. At the beginning of the 1970s, they even went skiing as a team – again on May 1, when winter was chased away in Hochfügen in the Zillertal with a special race: two men and a woman, connected by a 25-meter-long rope , had to do a complete giant slalom. “There were more brutal falls than during the descent to Kitzbühel on the Streif”, remembers Neureuther of the ski days in Hochfügen, where he was on the winners’ list a few times together with Rosi.
Christian Neureuther and Rosi Mittermaier married in 1980: Ameli and Félix achieve happiness
They married in 1980 and had children Ameli and Félix. If you were looking for a definition of what a model marriage is and what endless and lifelong love looks like, you can refer to Mittermaier and Neureuther.
After the success of 1976, it was clear that Rosi Mittermaier could no longer remain a competitive skier. It was also the era: characterized by a strict amateur status that prevented the best in the sport from making money with their skills. The greatest in their field were almost forced to resign.
Rosi Mittermaier: She never wanted to be a world star
Rosi Mittermaier could not have continued her sporting life as she was used to anyway: Reit im Winkl and the mountain pasture run by the Mittermaiers were overrun as in the history of German sport decades later Wallgau after the biathlon successes of Magdalena Neuner, the second Queen of Bavarian sport.
Rosi reported “people drove their cars home, there was no more grass growing” and “the laundry was pulled from the line as a remembrance”. Many businessmen “who wanted to be my manager” also called. Rosi Mittermaier then signed with Mark McCormack, a major US distributor.
Felix Neureuther didn’t know his mother was a ski star for a long time
But she had no desire to become a global player. She went from Winklmoosalm in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Christian, that’s about it. The couple was quite enterprising – for example, they bought the Erbacher ski company, founded a ski school, ran the obligatory sports store, got hired for the BR ski gymnastics, became the pilot of a walking campaign ad-supported Nordic, praised the RTL Chart Display past hits.
But Rosi also lived as a mother. Felix, who has become a ski star himself, always described Rosi’s tendency to giggle, even though for a long time she didn’t even tell him what kind of athlete she was. He heard all this from his competitors at junior races – who called him “Rosi”.
Pink. The name is enough, and the pictures are already there. The girl in the snow, the dimples, the celebrated young star, the mature woman happy with what life has given her and happy to share her happiness. And when luck turned a few months ago, she didn’t want to be a burden on anyone. She didn’t die publicly, but quietly. (guk)