Toni Sailer
November 17, 1935 - August 24, 2009

VIENNA (AP) - Austrian skiing great Toni Sailer, who in 1956 became the first athlete to win all three alpine ski events at a Winter Olympics, has died. He was 73.

Sailer passed away in Innsbruck on Monday after a long illness, his Kitzbuehel Ski Club said in a statement Tuesday.

Sailer won gold in the downhill, slalom and giant slalom at the 1956 Cortina Olympics in Italy. At the world championships there, he took gold in the downhill, slalom, giant slalom and combined.

He also won gold in the downhill, giant slalom and combined, as well as silver in the slalom, at the world championships in Bad Gastein, Austria two years later. Due to his speed, he became known as "the black lightning bolt from Kitz."

After retiring from competition in 1959, Sailer became a singer and an actor. He also produced skis in Canada and served as technical director of the Austrian Ski Federation between 1972 and 1976.

He was awarded the Olympic Order by the International Olympic Committee in 1985. In 1999, the Kitzbuehel native - who reportedly stood on skis for the first time at the age of two - was honored as Austria's sportsman of the century.

Other Austrian ski greats expressed sadness at the news of Sailer's death.

Franz Klammer, the 1976 Olympic downhill gold medalist, said he idolized Sailer as a child.

"As a small boy, I wanted to be just like him," Klammer was quoted as saying by the Austria Press Agency.

Funeral details were not immediately available.
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