The Austrian Ski Federation has announced the passing of Egon Zimmerman.
His greatest success was the Born in Lech, Vorarlberger, he celebrated his 80th birthday in February, was one of the outstanding ski racers of the 60s.
He owned a hotel in Lech am Arlberg and suffered from multiple sclerosis
The all-rounder of the Ski Club Arlberg, whose favorite discipline was the downhill, celebrated countless FIS victories, including at great classics such as in Kitzbühel, Val d'Isere, Wengen or Sestriere. In the unofficial FIS World Ranking (the World Cup was only introduced in 1967), the all-rounder from Lech appears twice on rank 2 (1962 and 1963). In 1963 Zimmermann was awarded the "Skier d'Or" for the outstanding ski racer of the season. In 1996 he also received the "Golden Medal of Honor for Services to the Republic of Austria". The ÖSV honored the downhill Olympic champion with the "Great Golden Sports Medal".
Zimmermann was raised on a farm near Lech, Vorarlberg, with two brothers. Lech blossomed into a ski resort while he was growing up, and his family converted their farm house into a pensione. His childhood coincided with the World War II post-war poverty of Austria, so not only did Zimmermann have no formal training, but his skis were often "fourth or fifth-hand."
At 15, his father forced him to learn a trade, and he schooled in a Parisian chef program. He returned to Austria by 18 and won a clean sweep of the 1958 Junior Championships. When he was promoted to the National team, Zimmermann commented "For me it was also the realization of a childhood dream, a dream interrupted by a kitchen."
Zimmerman won two medals at the 1962 World Championships in Chamonix, a gold in the giant slalom and a bronze in downhill. He was named the "Skier of the Year" in 1963 by European journalists. For the 1964 Olympics in Austria, the "dashing" and "handsome" Zimmermann was heavily favored to win. However, the course at Patscherkofel was quite difficult (nicknamed the "Course of Fear"), but he still managed to win by 0.74 seconds. (Franz Klammer famously won on the same course a dozen years later in 1976.)
He did not enter the slalom and did not finish the giant slalom. Despite not sweeping the alpine events as did his compatriot Toni Sailer in 1956, Zimmermann appeared on the February 10, 1964 cover of Sports Illustrated magazine in the United States.