Toni Matt

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Anton (Toni) Matt (b. ca. 1919 in St. Anton, Austria; d. May 17, 1989 in Pawling, New York[1]) was a ski racer.

Matt's most renowned feat came on April 16, 1939, when in the third "American Inferno," a top-to-bottom race of Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington, New Hampshire, he simply schussed the steep and infamous headwall. His time for the 4-mile race was 6 minutes 29.2 seconds, with an estimated top speed of over 85 MPH.[1]

Matt had moved from Austria to the United States in 1938. He entered the Inferno on April 16, 1939, only his second time on the mountain. His schuss of the headwall was unplanned; he intended to make a few turns and then tuck. However, visibility was poor that day, and he didn't realize that he had not yet reached the Lip, the steepest part of the approach to the headwall. By the time he realized his error, it was too late to turn. Years later, he said that when he reached the floor of the headwall, at the transition from steep to relatively flat, he felt lucky to be "nineteen, stupid, and have strong legs".[2]

Matt was the US Downhill Champion in 1939 and 1941. He served during World War II as a lieutenant in the 10th Mountain Division and was posted to the Aleutian Islands.[1]

Matt married Stella V. LoPresti (May 8, 1920-January 22, 2008) ca. 1944. They settled in Whitefish, Montana and raised five children: Marydeth, Carol (Zubiel), Richard, Tracy, and Francee (Quinlan).[3] They later moved to Pawling, New York.

Matt retired from ski racing in 1951 following a badly fractured leg, which took three years and surgery to fix. He then taught and coached skiing. Instructor Herbert Schneider said that Matt was "an especially gifted ski instructor."[4] He was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1967.[5]

Matt died on May 17, 1989 in Pawling, New York, apparently of a heart attack.[1] At the The Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana, a wide and steep trail is named for him.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d New York Times, Toni Matt Dies at 69; Former Ski Champion, May 19, 1989. Retrieved Dec. 2, 2007.
  2. ^ Jeffrey R. Leich, Recreational History of Tuckerman Ravine. Retrieved Dec. 2, 2007.
  3. ^ The Daily News of Newburyport, Stella V. Matt obituary, January 23, 2008. Retrieved February 5, 2008.
  4. ^ New England Ski Museum, Herbert Schneider, March 28, 2006. Retrieved December 8, 2007.
  5. ^ National Ski Hall of Fame, Honored Member. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  6. ^ Whitefish Ski Area Report, Big Mountain. Retrieved December 8, 2007.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Jeffrey R. Leich (1999), Over the Headwall, A Short History of Skiing in Tuckerman Ravine. New England Ski Museum. ASIN B0006RN50E