Sport: Ingemar Stenmark

If you are a sports fan you have probably heard of Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg - at least if you are about my age (40). Before Sampras and that Swiss guy many considered him to be the best player ever. He is also said to be the first "rockstar" of tennis.

So you know Bjorn, but do you know the guy in the picture above? If you are a Swede you know. If you are a sports fan from a country where alpine sports are big and if you are about my age you might know.

He is the second Swedish sports superstar of the same era (roughly the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s). He is Ingemar Stenmark - winner in 86 races in the Alpine Skiing World Cup, three times winner of the Overall World Cup title, 8 times winner of the Giant Slalom Cup, 8 times winner of the Slalom Cup, five times Olympic gold medalist... and he didn't do downhill, combined or Super-G. It is said that World Cup rules were changed and Super-G added as a discipline because of Stenmarks dominance. True? Maybe, maybe not.

Unlike Borg Ingemar wasn't the "rockstar" type of sportsman, he was - and I guess is - a shy man who didn't like the media attention. We all got used to his taciturn interviews on the telly. He didn't want to talk about the sport, he wanted to ski and ski well. The Swedes loved him even more for his ways and his northern characteristic dialect.

Many races took place on work/schooldays, with the first run in the morning and the second in the afternoons and in workplaces and schools everything came to a halt. TV sets were rolled into the classrooms and in tense expectation we all followed Ingemar's runs, cheering him on.

And then, in the schoolyards, the kids wore the specially knitted Stenmark-cap talking about Ingemar. We all knew the names of his fiercest competitors; the Mahre brothers, Thöni, Gros, Girardelli, Wenzel, Heidegger, Hemmi, Popangelov, Zurbriggen...

This list says something: List of Alpine skiing World Cup race winners - Men


Tommy said...

Ingemar - the Dancer!

P-E Fronning said...

Kallade man honom så, Tommy? Nog dansade han vackert ner för kullarna.