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Aug 31, 2018·Alpine Skiing
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'The Tiger from Kleinarl' won more overall FIS World Cups than anybody else in the history of the sport. Annemarie Moser-Pröll is beyond doubt the most successful female ski racer the world has ever seen and her merits are on the same level as those of Ingemar Stenmark for the men. As a skier though she was more similar to Franz Klammer, who had his own particular style of racing down a hill. One thing is for sure, both of them were complete Downhill daredevils from Austria. Annemarie Moser-Pröll's successes to come were not instantly obvious when at the age of 14 she started in her first FIS World Cup race.

She came last in the challenging Downhill of Badgastein, after falling three times on her way down. What Annemarie did have plenty of though was courage.

She was big, heavy and strong. She had the strength to keep tough lines at high speed, which was more difficult with the equipment of those days. Downhill was her single best discipline but she also did well in giant slalom and she always chose a different race line to the other women. She had the audacity to dare where other women did not and that gave her an edge over her rivals.

After the disastrous World Cup debut in 1967, it didn't take long until she made her way to the winners' podium. Two years later she came third in the St. Gervais downhill, despite her bib number 83 but the real breakthrough came in 1970-71, when she won the overall FIS World Cup.

She went on to win the Overall Cup for five consecutive years. She also won the FIS World Ski Championships Downhill gold in 1974 in St. Moritz. She was called 'la Proell' in the French-speaking parts of the Alps and 'The Tiger from Kleinarl' - after her home village near Salzburg - by her countrymen who adored her.

The only gold medals she missed out on during her Golden period of 1970 to 1975 were the Olympic ones in Sapporo in 1972. There she was beaten both in Downhill and Giant Slalom by Swiss racer Marie Therèse Nadig.

Thereafter, at the age of 22 she took an unexpected break. Some claim she looked after her sick father, whereas others said she was in conflict with her ski sponsor, who tried to make her change to skis she didn't like. Whatever the reason, she took the time to get married and start a café in her home area.

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