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Innsbruck 1964

The 1964 Olympic Winter Games can be described as the first televised Games. Well over 200 hours of airtime was devoted to the events in Innsbruck.

ANECDOTE

Double triumph for sisters wearing number 14

Competitors’ times in the Alpine skiing events were recorded to the nearest 1/100th of a second for the first time. This was a good thing, since eight years after Toni Sailer had finished several seconds ahead of his nearest rivals, the world’s elite were much more tightly bunched. In the Axamer Lizum, Austrian Pepi Stiegler won the slalom with a 0.14 second margin over Bill Kidd (USA). Frenchman François Bonlieu, who was murdered nine years later, took the giant slalom gold medal with a 0.38 second lead over Karl Schranz (AUT). In the women’s giant slalom, Christine Goitschel (born 9 June 1944) and Jean Saubert (USA) were exactly level, even to the nearest 1/100th of a second, after 1,250 m and were both awarded silver medals. But it was not this result that everyone was talking about on the slopes of the Hoadl on 3 February 1964, but rather the fact that two sisters had won gold and silver in the slalom. Marielle Goitschel (born 28 September 1945) won the giant slalom, two days after Christine had won the slalom.

A double triumph by two siblings had never happened before. Christine won the slalom, 0.91 seconds quicker than Marielle, who had led the field after the first run. “Since in those days the second run still used to be held in reverse order and I was the last to go in the first group, I knew that one of us would become Olympic champion, which is why I did not put 100% into it and lost my lead,” remembers Marielle. The younger of the two therefore finished the giant slalom 0.87 seconds faster than her sister and Saubert. One little sideline: both wore the number 14 on their way to Olympic gold. “It’s my lucky number,” says Marielle. Her current telephone number ends 141414. There was no decider in the downhill, since only Marielle Goitschel competed in this event, finishing 10th.

After her victory in the giant slalom, the mischievous, quick-witted Marielle announced in front of live microphones her engagement to young, up-and-coming skier Jean-Claude Killy, who countered with the comment, “She’s a real joker.” After winning another Olympic gold medal in Grenoble, this time in the slalom, Marielle Goitschel, who was still not even 23 years old, retired as France’s most successful female skier of all time. She had won two Olympic golds and eight World Championship titles in four disciplines (downhill, giant slalom, slalom and combined). Maybe her career could have been prolonged. “But for us women there was virtually no money in skiing in those days. In addition, I did not get on with our coach,” she says. Her coach was brother-in-law Jean Béranger, who married her sister Christine. Marielle Goitschel still lives in Val Thorens. She has only got one of her gold medals left: the one she was awarded in the 1966 World Downhill Championship, which was presented to her 30 years late. Erik Schinegger, who had won it under the name Erika Schinegger, handed it over to Marielle Goitschel, who had finished second. Fourteen Olympic and World Championship medals were stolen from her house during a break-in many years ago.

TECHNOLOGY

On screen clock for television viewers

In the early 1960s, the development of the Omegascope enabled OMEGA to revolutionise timekeeping. The device could be used to superimpose a clock onto the television screen, allowing TV viewers to enjoy the benefits of timekeeping. However, this brought with it a new responsibility for the timekeepers: there was no room for error any more. In 1962, thanks to the clock on their TV screens, viewers were able to enter into the drama of the Hahnenkamm ski race in Kitzbühel for the first time.

The second generation Omegascope was used at the Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck, which can be considered the first fully electronic Games. Now the times of several competitors could be compared with each other and their numbers superimposed on the screen. Millions of television viewers realised that a new era had begun.

In the stadiums, a scoreboard bearing the name “OMEGA-Longines-IBM” and linked to the computer centre was used for the first time to keep spectators up-to-date with how the events were progressing.


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