Alpine skiing is one of the most exciting sports in the world. Skiers race down a snow-covered slope often at top speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour. They must possess courage and an unbridled sense of athletic balance.
The world has witnessed hundreds of remarkable skiing performances over the years. While there are many skiers worth mentioning, only a gifted few warrant consideration as the best of all time. Here are four of those great skiers, including some of their impressive career highlights.
In many circles, Jean-Claude Killy is held as the greatest skier of all time. His tenacity generated a seemingly fearless style. As the pressure grew greater, Killy would just ski faster. While his career only spanned two World Cup events, Killy dominated each. In 1967 and 1968 he won or finished second in every downhill event, and he remains a household name to this day because of his extreme success.
- 3 Olympic gold medals, all in the 1968 games.
- 5 World gold medals.
- Dominated 12 out of the 17 races to win the first World Cup ski event in 1967.
In spite of his missing the 1984 Olympic Games, Ingemar Stenmark won seven World Cup events that season. He owns more first place finishes than any other skier in history. While many competitions were decided by tenths of a second, that was not the case with Stenmark. He dominated events during his career, often winning events by a multiple second gap, which is a significant lead in the skiing community.
- 3 Olympic medals – 2 gold and a bronze.
- Over 150 World Cup medals – 86 gold, 43 silver, 26 bronze.
- Stenmark was ranked #1 in the slalom and giant slalom for 7 consecutive years beginning in 1975.
- Won 3 straight World Cups from 1976 to 78, winning the Holmenkollen medal during the 1979 season.
Kjetil Andre Aamodt
Victories in sports are the ultimate gauge of success. If the same holds true for skiers, Kjetil Andre Aamodt established the benchmark. During his career from 1992 to 2006, Aamodt earned more Olympic wins than any other skier. His career also included more World Cup gold medals than his closest competitor.
- 8 Olympic medals – 4 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze.
- 63 World Cup Medals – 21 gold, 22 silver, 20 bronze.
- 5 times ranked #1 combined overall in the world, including four times from 1997 to 2002.
- Aamodt finished in the top 10 over 200 times in World Cup races.
Another fun fact: he was both the youngest and the oldest male skier to win gold in an Olympic ski event.
Undoubtedly the greatest Italian skier ever, Alberto Tomba quickly became known all over the world, as well. He earned five Olympic gold medals and earned a trip to the podium 50 times during his World Cup career. To put his career in perspective, Tomba is the only male skier in history to win a World Cup event for 11 straight years.
- 5 Olympic medals – 3 gold and 2 silver.
- 88 World Cup medals – 50 gold, 26 silver, 12 bronze.
- Swept both slalom events and the overall title at the 1995 World Cup.
- 2 World Championships and 9 World Cup season titles.
While there are a number of great skiers who would be worthy of debate as the best skiers of all time, these are unquestionably four of the greatest. Each maintained domination over the competition during their career like few alpine skiers ever have. These four skied with such a determined tenacity they all warrant a spot on any list of the greatest alpine skiers.