Gustavo Thoeni (German: Gustav Thöni) was one of the greatest alpine skiing champions of all times, achieving four wins in the overall World Cup (1971-73, 1975) and one second-place finish in 1974. He also won five event World Cups in giant slalom (1970-72) and slalom (1973-74). In World Cup races he won 65 podium places and 24 first places between 1969-80. In addition to his Olympic achievements, he won two gold medals at the 1974 World Championships in slalom and giant slalom and two in the combined, which were only considered as World Championships titles in 1972 and 1976, when no combined event was held at the Olympics. Even though a technical specialist, a second-place in the 1975 Streif downhill at Kitzbühel is one of his best known races, when he trailed Franz Klammer, regarded by many as the best downhill skier of all-time, by only 3/1000ths of a second. At Italian Championships Thoeni won 13 medals: one in downhill, five in giant slalom, six in slalom and one in combined, of which five were gold medals.
After he retired from racing, Thoeni embarked on a coaching career, contributing to the success of Alberto Tomba, acting as his personal coach from 1989-96. He also has been coach of the Italian national team, first as technical director of the men’s team and then until 1999 as general manager of the Italian national team, both male and female. Thoeni was the Italian flag bearer during two consecutive Opening Ceremonies (1976 and 1980) and in 2006 was a bearer of the Olympic Flag during the Closing Ceremony of the Torino Winter Games in. In 1973 and 1974 he was named “Skieur d’Or”, an awarded presented by international ski journalists.
Confirmation of his fame is that his name was cited in the successful song “Nuntereggae Più” by Rino Gaetano, together with those of other Italian celebrities of the time. In 1981 he was the protagonist of the film “A Hundredth of a Second” by Duccio Tessari, vaguely inspired by the tragic death of Italian skier Leonardo David and Thoeni’s legendary downhill race in Kitzbühel, but his career as an actor was short-lived. In his native Trafoi, he later managed the Bella Vista hotel that houses his trophy collection.
In January 2022, the journalist Beppe Conti wrote a book about Thoeni’s life entitled Gustavo Thoeni, Olimpiadi, Mondiali, 4 Coppe, i trionfi dell’uomo e del mito (Gustavo Thoeni, Olympics, World Championships, 4 Cups, the triumphs of man and myth).