Bernhard Russi

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Bernhard Russi
Bernhard Russi in 1972
Personal information
Born (1948-08-20) 20 August 1948 (age 75)
Andermatt, Uri, Switzerland
OccupationAlpine skier
Height183 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Skiing career
DisciplinesDownhill, giant slalom
ClubSC Gotthard Andermatt
World Cup debut8 January 1968 (age 19)
RetiredMarch 1978 (age 29)
Teams2 – (1972, 1976)
Medals2 (1 gold)
World Championships
Teams5 – (19701978)
  (includes two Olympics)
Medals3 (2 gold)
World Cup
Seasons9 – (19701978)
Wins10 – (9 DH, 1 GS)
Podiums28 – (27 DH, 1 GS)
Overall titles0 – (5th in 1971, '72, '77)
Discipline titles2 – (2 DH: 1971, 1972)
Medal record
Men's alpine skiing
Representing  Switzerland
World Cup race podiums
Event 1st 2nd 3rd
Giant slalom 1 0 0
Downhill 9 6 12
Total 10 6 12
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1972 Sapporo Downhill
Silver medal – second place 1976 Innsbruck Downhill
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1970 Val Gardena Downhill
Gold medal – first place 1972 Sapporo Downhill
Silver medal – second place 1976 Innsbruck Downhill

Bernhard Russi (born 20 August 1948) is a former World Cup alpine ski racer from Switzerland. Born in Andermatt in the canton of Uri, he is an Olympic, World Cup, and World champion in the downhill event.[1]

Racing career[edit]

Russi made his World Cup debut at age 19 in January 1968 at a giant slalom in Adelboden. After two races in 1968 and six in 1969, he joined the World Cup circuit full-time in December 1969.[2] However, his racing career was set back at this time by his work as a stuntman in the movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service which was filmed in Switzerland and during which he fractured a cervical vertebra. After a period of rehabilitation from this injury, he was able, for the first time in several months, to compete in the downhill Race at Val d'Isère on December 14, 1969, in which he placed 14th. He gained World Cup Points by recording his first World Cup top ten finish (tenth in the downhill on January 10 on the Lauberhorn piste in Wengen). He went on to achieve a fourth place in the downhill at Garmisch-Partenkirchen on February 1, leading to him being selected for the Swiss team at the 1970 World Championships, where he won his first event, the downhill, ahead of Karl Cordin of Austria and Australian Malcolm Milne. It was a race with fresh snow, and he was the 15th racer on the start list - a good number for such conditions. He won despite suffering a hand fracture a week before in a practice race, contending with the pain during his winning run. Notably, he skied his winning run without ski wax as his coach Paul Berlinger scraped the wax off his skis directly before the start. Because the World Championships counted towards the World Cup at this time, his World Championship win was also his first World Cup race victory. Two years later at the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, he won the gold medal in the same discipline on Mt. Eniwa. Countryman Roland Collombin secured the silver and a Swiss one-two. Russi won the World Cup season title in downhill in 1971 and 1972. That year, he was named as Swiss Sportsman of the Year for the second time, and he was also awarded with the Skieur d’Or, for the world's ski racer of the year, and the Étoile d’Or (the Gold Star).

His performance in the 1974 World Championships on home snow was disappointing; he was thirteenth in the downhill at St. Moritz. At the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, Russi nearly retained his Olympic title with a very fast time in the downhill at Patscherkofel, but took the silver medal. The third racer on the course, he finished 0.33 seconds behind Franz Klammer of Austria, who started fifteenth, the last of the top seeds. To date (2018) no men's Olympic champion in the downhill has successfully defended his title; Russi remains the sole defender to medal.

As in 1974, his performance in the 1978 World Championships at Garmisch was disappointing, finishing fourteenth in the downhill in late January. As a result of this, he retired from international competition a few days later with ten World Cup victories, 28 podiums, and 52 top ten finishes. In addition to his two downhill titles in 1971 and 1972, Russi was second in 1973 and third in 1976 and 1977. His best finish in the overall standings was fifth, achieved three times in 1971, 1972, and 1977.[3][4]

From 1948 through 1980, the Winter Olympics also served as the world championships for alpine skiing. During the early seasons of the World Cup, the Olympics (1968) and world championships (1970) were included in the World Cup season standings; these major competitions were excluded beginning with the 1971 season.

After racing[edit]

Russi currently serves as the chairman of the FIS Alpine Committee and is a FIS technical advisor for downhill course design. Beginning with the 1988 Winter Olympics, Russi has been noted as a designer of downhill courses for the Olympics, and he has also designed such courses for the FIS Alpine Skiing World Championships. The Rattlesnake-course at Vail in 1989 was a "formidable challenge" to him. Another famous course of his was the La face de Bellevarde at Val-d’Isère (1992 Winter Olympics), and he was the construction supervisor for the Rosa Khutor course at Krasnaja Poljana (2014 Winter Olympics). This stemmed from dissatisfaction with the courses at the 1980 and 1984 games; since Russi took over, there have been few complaints.[5][6] He also serves as a commentator for alpine ski racing on Swiss television.[7] - He also is a brand ambassador for Japanese car manufacturer Subaru and for several Swiss companies. After the end of his marriage to Michèle Rubi (a three-times Swiss Skiing Champion in 1970) he married Mari Bergström from Sweden. He has a son by his first wife and a daughter by his second.

World Cup results[edit]

Season titles[edit]

Season Discipline
1971 Downhill
1972 Downhill

Season standings[edit]

Season  Age   Overall   Slalom  Giant
Super G Downhill Combined
1970 21 19 not
5 awarded
only in
1971 22 5 8 1
1972 23 5 23 1
1973 24 6 2
1974 25 17 4
1975 26 11 4
1976 27 8 3
1977 28 5 3
1978 29 28 12

Race podiums[edit]

  • 10 wins – (9 DH, 1 GS)
  • 28 podiums – (27 DH, 1 GS)
Season Date Location Discipline Place
1970 15 Feb 1970 Italy Val Gardena, Italy(W.Ch.) ^ Downhill 1st
1971 16 Jan 1971  Switzerland  St. Moritz, Switzerland Downhill 2nd
31 Jan 1971 France Megève, France Downhill 1st
13 Feb 1971 Canada Mt. Ste. Anne, Canada Giant slalom 1st
18 Feb 1971 United States Sugarloaf, USA Downhill 1st
1972 5 Dec 1972  Switzerland  St. Moritz, Switzerland Downhill 1st
14 Jan 1972 Austria Kitzbühel, Austria Downhill 3rd
Japan 1972 Winter Olympics
25 Feb 1972 United States Crystal Mtn, USA Downhill 1st
26 Feb 1972 Downhill 2nd
25 Mar 1972 Italy Val Gardena, Italy Downhill 1st
1973 7 Jan 1973 West Germany Garmisch, West Germany Downhill 3rd
13 Jan 1973  Switzerland  Grindelwald, Switzerland Downhill 1st
27 Jan 1973 Austria Kitzbühel, Austria Downhill 2nd
3 Feb 1973 Austria St. Anton, Austria Downhill 1st
1974 22 Dec 1973 Austria Schladming, Austria Downhill 3rd
1975 26 Jan 1975 Austria Innsbruck, Austria Downhill 2nd
21 Mar 1975 Italy Val Gardena, Italy Downhill 3rd
1976 7 Dec 1975 France Val-d'Isère, France Downhill 3rd
9 Jan 1976  Switzerland  Wengen, Switzerland Downhill 3rd
17 Jan 1976 France Morzine, France Downhill 2nd
Austria 1976 Winter Olympics
1977 18 Dec 1976 Italy Val Gardena, Italy Downhill 3rd
15 Jan 1977 Austria Kitzbühel, Austria Downhill 3rd
22 Jan 1977  Switzerland  Wengen, Switzerland Downhill 3rd
30 Jan 1977 France Morzine, France Downhill 1st
31 Jan 1977 Downhill 3rd
18 Feb 1977  Switzerland  Laax, Switzerland Downhill 3rd
12 Mar 1977 United States Heavenly Valley, USA Downhill 3rd
1978 22 Dec 1977 Italy Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy Downhill 2nd

^ Results from the 1970 World Championships (and 1968 Winter Olympics) were included in the World Cup standings.

World championship results[edit]

  Year    Age   Slalom  Giant
Super-G Downhill Combined
1970 21 not
1972 23 1
1974 25 13
1976 27 2
1978 29 14

From 1948 through 1980, the Winter Olympics were also the World Championships for alpine skiing.

Olympic results [edit]

  Year    Age   Slalom  Giant
Super-G Downhill Combined
1972 23 not
1 not
1976 27 2



  1. ^ Bernhard Russi Archived 2012-02-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ (in German) – career results – accessed 2011-01-01
  3. ^ – Bernard Russi – World Cup results – accessed 2010-03-06
  4. ^ – Bernhard Russi – World Cup season rankings – accessed 2010-03-06
  5. ^ SKI Magazine Archived 2014-03-05 at the Wayback Machine – Bernhard Russi: Olympic Downhill Designer – 2001-10-17 – accessed 2012-03-20
  6. ^ Archived 2012-02-08 at the Wayback Machine – Next up Sochi – Interview with Bernhard Russi – 2012-02-06 – accessed 2012-03-20
  7. ^ Swiss – people – canton of Uri – accessed 2012-03-20

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Switzerland Philippe Clerc
Swiss Sportsman of the Year
Succeeded by
Switzerland Meta Antenen
Preceded by
Switzerland Meta Antenen
Swiss Sportsman of the Year
Succeeded by
Switzerland Werner Dössegger