Dettlef Günther, whose unusual given name of Dettlef is ascribed to an error of the responsible registrar who wrote his name with an incorrect double “t,” started his international career by winning the 1973 European Youth Championships. In 1975 he repeated this success at the European Senior Championships, and he won a surprise gold medal at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck. At the 1979 World Championships, he repeated that victory, and was European runner-up that year as well. Favored at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, Günther crashed near the end of his third run, eventually placing fourth. He then made his living as a coach until German re-unification, later working in the production control department of the nickel smelting works at Aue.