Bib quantity 15 moved into the beginning gate atop Patscherkofel, top above the Tyrolean village of Innsbruck. His yellow racing go well with wasn’t as crisp and flashy as the opposite golden Austrian uniforms. He slid his Fischer C4s from side to side, stretching his legs. There used to be a way of calm – a trademark of self belief – because the 22-year-old athlete put his poles over the beginning wand.
Throughout all of Austria, there used to be nary a unmarried particular person on a village side road. College playgrounds have been quiet and the capital of Vienna used to be empty. Each set of Austrian eyes have been tuned in to ORF around the a ways corners of the land. Along the ski monitor out of doors Innsbruck, 60,000 fanatics covered the piste.
The following one minute, 45.73 seconds would alternate Franz Klammer’s lifestyles ceaselessly. It could additionally herald a brand new technology of ski racing as an international recreation whilst loads of hundreds of thousands of audience watched his ‘Klammer Taste’ run to Olympic gold.
The 1976 Olympic downhill used to be arguably essentially the most expected Wintry weather Olympic match in historical past – a matchup with the veteran, protecting gold medalist Bernhard Russi of Switzerland, and the upstart younger Austrian farm boy Franz Klammer. These days, greater than 45 years later, its legend nonetheless lives on, a long lasting tale of what many imagine to be the best ski race of all time.
The tale of the Austrian legend involves the massive display this month with the discharge of
“Chasing the Line.” The feature-length movie debuted with a screening Sept. 27 on the Zurich Movie Pageant. It’ll premiere Oct. 26 in Villach, Austria, close to Klammer’s formative years house of Mooswald. Berlin-based Picturetree World is managing international distribution. Showings in america and Canada are pending.
Have an effect on of the Kaiser
Few previous stars of ski recreation command consideration lately like Franz Klammer. We all know the Kaiser. Whilst the 1976 downhill gold medal is his calling card, the longer term athletic good fortune he completed has infrequently been rivaled, even a half-century later.
Right here’s the scorecard: 25 Global Cup downhill wins – essentially the most by way of any guy in historical past (Stephan Eberharter has 18). 5 Global Cup downhill crystal globes (maximum ever for males). 4 Hahnenkamm downhill titles (best Didier Cuche has extra, with 5). Klammer got here into the 1976 Olympics with 3 immediately Global Cup downhill wins and back-to-back Hahnenkamm titles. A season previous in 1974-75, he received an remarkable 8 Global Cup downhills. In 1974, he took house Global Championship gold in blended at St. Moritz, silver in downhill.
In some ways, Klammer used to be an not likely champion. He didn’t develop up within the shadow of the towering Tyrolean Alps. As an alternative, he used to be born within the southernmost Austrian state of Carinthia, a area with lesser-known mountains and somewhat out of doors the ski racing highlight. His tiny village of Mooswald, north of Villach, used to be positioned within the mountains however with no ski elevate. However younger Franz beloved the snow, snowboarding to university within the wintry weather and mountaineering up hills on his personal to return racing backpedal.
“My mom put me on skis when I used to be two years outdated,” reminisced Klammer. “Ever since I will take into accout, I’ve been on skis. It used to be the most efficient babysitter as a result of I used to be already in the market on skis, snowboarding up and all the way down to a bit of village up within the mountain. No elevate, no not anything. We have been climbing all day lengthy and snowboarding.”
He rode his first chairlift at 8, and he didn’t get started ski racing till he used to be 14. “After which I knew instantly that ski racing can be my lifestyles.”
Foundation of a movie
For just about a half-century, the tale of the rustic boy discovering gold has begged for the silver display. However repeated makes an attempt have failed. The concern of many used to be that the outstanding good fortune of the Austrian ski racer would get handed by way of over the generations.
Christian Kresse, the tourism leader for the state of Carinthia, sought after to switch that and to deliver Klammer’s tale to the display – a procedure that started just about 8 years previous.
“Franz is a testimonial for snowboarding,” stated Kresse. “Like Muhammad Ali for boxing, Wayne Gretzky for ice hockey or Tiger Woods for golfing. Franz – we all know him!”
In his middle, Kresse believed within the tale. He remembered that day in 1976 as a six-year-old boy, crowded along side his kindergarten classmates observing on a miniature tv in class. “I take into accout, after he received, all of us went out of doors and performed like we have been Franz Klammer!”
However Kresse, a notable determine in advertising, discovered it not easy to deliver his dream to closure. Two times he took the concept that to filmmakers and two times it went nowhere.
“I assumed, ‘Franz is essentially the most well-known Carinthian and we will have to do one thing with him,’” stated Kresse. “I sought after to make a movie. Two or 3 times we attempted to deliver a just right tale. However they weren’t sexy. Franz’s spouse stated, ‘no, sorry, that’s not a tale.’”
3 years in the past, Kresse attempted another time. At a business display in Berlin, he met Vienna filmmaker Jakob Pochlatko of epo-film, a third-generation family-owned manufacturing corporate.
“He approached me to invite if I had an idea on the best way to make a movie about Franz Klammer,” stated Pochlatko. “I’m a passionate skier myself. I labored as a ski trainer when I used to be a pupil. And so this used to be, for me, the spark that lit the mission. I couldn’t forestall fascinated about it. It used to be simply the theory of constructing one thing about Franz Klammer.”
However Pochlatko additionally noticed the problem. “Simply the theory of constructing a movie about Franz Klammer isn’t really easy from a filmmaker’s point of view,” he stated. “He’s one of the most only a few individuals who appeared to do the entirety proper. And nonetheless, he does the entirety proper! He’s beloved by way of everyone and he had an important occupation. This isn’t a just right tale for a movie as a result of you wish to have the emotional curler coaster. And that used to be the principle impediment to take on prior to growing a script.”
Problem in hand, Pochlatko took the movie thought to director and screenwriter Andreas Schmied of Samsara Filmproduktion. About that very same time, Klammer had noticed a movie Schmied had directed a couple of Carinthian ice hockey participant, Harrinator, that have been launched that yr. Partial to the Klagenfurt ice hockey workforce KAC, Klammer appreciated the movie. Pochlatko tracked down the director to discuss his engagement in telling Franz’ tale.
“The Klammer tale, yah, it used to be epic,” stated Schmied, a Styrian-born creator and director who, like maximum Austrians, used to be on skis prior to he used to be two. “It’s within the hearts and minds of Austrians – it’s nonetheless there. You develop up with it.”
Schmied actually grew up with the Klammer legend.
“Franz’ mythical race used to be one month prior to I used to be born,” he stated. “Once I instructed my mom that I’m doing this movie, she stated these kinds of recollections got here up. They have been at my grandparents’ (area) they usually watched the race with the neighbors. Everyone used to be in entrance of the tv set. I used to be kicking in her stomach as a result of my mom used to be so excited the entire time.”
The chance for Andreas Schmied, in conjunction with his spouse Elisabeth, to put in writing the screenplay for the Klammer tale used to be each just right fortune and a large problem. It used to be an excellent lifetime tale of a tender boy who had shocking athletic good fortune. Nevertheless it used to be additionally advanced.
“The mission in reality got here to us with a large burden,” stated Schmied, echoing Pochlatko’s considerations. “Others had attempted to make a movie about Franz Klammer for slightly a while and no person slightly were given it right kind. They attempted to perform a little more or less a glamour biopic.”
Andreas dug into the tale together with his spouse Elisabeth, a former journalist who’s now a screenwriter and novelist. Schmied, now a most important in Samsara Filmproduction, had prior to now produced 5 function movies in Austria. He and Elisabeth dissected the tale to decide how they might inform Klammer’s tale and stay the eye of an target audience 45 years after his well-known trip down Patscherkofel.
“I needed to glance into it – is there even a film there?” he stated. “To begin with, biopics fail as a result of they’re nearly like pastime performs. The unhealthy ones are nearly like ‘little Franz will get his keys after which he’s a teen. And there’s this one instructor who says, ‘observe your goals,’ or no matter. That is the place maximum biopics fail.
“So that they took an opportunity, considering ‘what if we did a full-length function movie and simply thinking about one race?’ “We pitched Franz at the thought,” stated Schmied. “We stated that the most efficient movie, so far as our analysis is going, is just at the back of the scenes on the Olympics.”
Klammer had noticed many movie proposals through the years, however all of them hit hurdles. This one used to be other. “I assumed, that’s a amusing factor simply to make a movie with one week from my lifestyles,” he stated.
“However crucial week in my lifestyles! That’s what I appreciated.”
A Tale for Carinthia
The tale of Franz Klammer is the tale of ski racing in Carinthia. As he drove in the course of the Austrian geographical region from Klagenfurt to Villach, Kresse used to be fast to show a little-known truth about Carinthian snowboarding. Klammer, in conjunction with fellow Carinthia natives Fritz Strobl and Matthias Mayer, shape a novel trio of Olympic downhill champions – greater than another Austrian state, even the Tyrol.
Strobl, who grew up within the southern Carinthia village of Steinfeld, used to be best three-and-a-half years outdated when Klammer received on Patscherkofel. However he used to be impressed, happening to win Olympic downhill gold at the gnarly Grizzly Run at Snowbasin in 2002 and changed into a unprecedented double Hahnenkamm sieger. Klammer and Strobl changed into lifelong buddies, sharing a looking resort in overdue September prior to the movie’s debut in Zurich.
Mayer, a Hahnenkamm champion who received Olympic downhill gold at Rosa Khutor in 2014 and doubled up with super-G gold at PyeongChang, grew up actually at the different aspect of the mountain from Klammer’s house.
“He used to be an excessively mythical skier,” stated Mayer, the son of Helmut Mayer, the 1988 Olympic super-G silver medalist in Nakiska. “It used to be at all times a large purpose for me to be like Franz Klammer. And he’s nonetheless a large hero lately.”
Mayer echoed the delight of his Austrian state. “It’s very particular that Franz grew up in Carinthia, simply 10 mins from my area.”
Once a year, Mayer joins legions of fans to the native Excursion de Franz biking match. “We opt for a lager and a few great talks,” stated Mayer. “He isn’t just mythical as a skier, he’s only a very nice particular person.”
Making a storyline
The Klammer tale used to be, smartly, lovely very best. Nevertheless it lacked an antagonist – anyone to create pressure. And, it wanted somewhat of a love tale. Andreas and Elisabeth Schied discovered each.
The antagonist position used to be solid with Fischer Skis proprietor Josef ‘Pepi’ Fischer, the second-generation proprietor of the famed Austrian ski corporate. Fischer, who handed in 2020 on the age of 90, have been referred to as a hard-driving, cutting edge ski business chief. He took over after the surprising loss of life of his father in 1959. One among his early strikes used to be to put Fischer as an elite ski product, making an investment in racing and having the great fortune in 1964 of Austrian Egon Zimmermann profitable downhill gold on Patscherkofel on Fischer skis, vaulting the small corporate into the highlight.
A dozen years later, Fischer had a powerful racing product. And Klammer used to be profitable giant on its C4 skis. However Pepi Fischer sought after extra. Whilst Klammer have been constant in his good fortune at the skis, Fischer and his workforce had innovated a brand new product. Klammer, a easy younger guy, used to be extra ok with the C4s. So, the vital struggle used to be born.
The affection tale proved to be an actual one, specializing in the position of Klammer’s now spouse of 42 years, Eva. Their tale used to be actually one for the massive display.
In the summertime of 1975, within the lead-up to the Olympics, the Austrian workforce held a coaching camp in Tunisia the place he coincidentally met a tender lady from Vienna.
“We met in Tunisia, in Africa, at the seashore, recalled Klammer. “And he or she says, ‘smartly, what are you doing?’ I stated, ‘smartly, I’m snowboarding.’ ‘Are you profitable one thing?’ she says. ‘Sure. And what are you doing?’ ‘I’m finding out medication.’ And that used to be all we mentioned. However in that yr, 1975, I had received the entire Global Cup races. So she in reality had no clue who I used to be.”
The face the general public has noticed of Franz Klammer for fifty years has been one among a bold downhill ski racer. At the back of that, although, is a real love tale that contributed to his athletic good fortune. Even lately, he’s emotional in telling it.
“I at all times idea, ‘I can by no means be capable to discover a lady who I’m going to like,’” stated Klammer, pausing to assemble his ideas. “However, with Eva, it used to be instant. She used to be at all times supporting me. She by no means got here to the races. However she used to be at all times an enormous strengthen from the start, sitting at all times within the background and simply being there. In order that used to be the essential factor.”
They have been married in 1979. “And he or she remains to be taking part in one of the vital essential roles in my lifestyles. I am hoping it lasts ceaselessly.”
Storyline in hand, casting the best actors changed into the following problem. “I knew that Franz Klammer – his victory and his legend – principally can be sufficient to promote the film on his identify and this emotional tale. So I in reality sought after to offer the target audience an actual really feel for the folks within the tale.”
Throughout casting, Schmied and casting director Nicole Schmidt appeared for actors and actresses proper all the way down to their age and the main points in their regional dialect – one thing difficult that adjustments over the years.
The primary option to play the position of Franz used to be Julian Waldner. “He used to be from Carinthia, the best age, nearly the best construct, he received a few ski races when he used to be a boy. I couldn’t consider my good fortune.”
For Eva, they went with a tender actress from Vienna, Valerie Huber. “She used to be one of the most first individuals who got here in and he or she simply blew me away,” stated Schmied.
A key to any movie is casting. And Schmied and Schmidt hit it out of the park. “The entire different actors we discovered – they have been very best,” stated Schmied, lighting fixtures up with pleasure. “Possibly no person is aware of them, however I believe everyone will know them after the film is out as a result of they’re so just right.”
Klammer and Eva spent important time with the screenwriters and the actors, particularly Waldner. “We changed into shut buddies and it used to be amusing,” stated Klammer. “He used to be so desperate to play the Franz Klammer and do it proper.”
Whilst a lot of the storyline of the movie is the stress Klammer felt and his burgeoning romance with Eva, manufacturer Pochlatko knew that the actual middle of the movie used to be how he portrayed one of the vital exciting ski runs of all time 45 years later. So he reached out to fellow Austrian filmmaker Gerald Salmina, manufacturer of the 2014 movie Streif: One Hell of a Journey, to control moment unit capturing at Patscherkofel ultimate February.
“He did the entire motion photographs,” stated Schmied. “We had in reality lengthy talks about how the film will have to be filmed. He used to be in reality skilled and I realized such a lot from Gerald within the sense that he instructed me what’s happening within the minds of downhill skiers and the way they how they how they function.”
There used to be a variety of pastime and enjoy with Salmina, whose Mount St. Elias and Streif have been charming works. Like maximum Austrians, he had a different position in his middle for Franz Klammer.
“I take into accout the race – we have been in the lounge observing on TV in black and white,” stated Salmina, who used to be 11 on the time. “No person used to be doing anything else. We have been rarely respiring. It used to be completely, completely quiet. The entire relations used to be sitting in entrance of the TV.
“I believe he received for everyone, ? He received for the country, for each Austrian skier”
In generating the ski race scenes for
“Chasing the Line,” it could were simple to easily pull archival photos to construct a documentary tale. However manufacturers selected to recreate the ancient 1976 race down Patscherkofel.
“Chasing the Line” offered new demanding situations he hadn’t confronted in generating Streif, which took audience within the minds of downhillers who threw themselves fearlessly into the Mausefalle. First off, Patscherkofel used to be slightly a placid downhill run in comparison to the Hahnenkamm. Racing skis had modified appreciably. Protection had larger.
To movie with authenticity, manufacturers had new apparatus manufactured to make it glance outdated. In addition they had to take what’s now an intermediate leisure ski run and turn into in into the tough and tumble 1976 downhill. Fischer constructed new downhill skis, shortening them somewhat and including sidecut. Salmina introduced in his pal and Hahnankemm race leader Alex Naglich to create the racing surroundings for the movie.
And in the event you’re a ski racing purist, sure, you could come across somewhat of familiarity within the taste of Klammer racing crazily down the piste. It’s global champion Daron Rahlves.
When casting ski racing doubles for Klammer, Salmina became to his longtime pal Rahlves. Salmina used to be at Kitzbühel in 2003 the day Rahlves received. He adopted him in the course of the day soaking within the cultural enjoy. And the 2 met that evening at The Londoner forging each a friendship and a partnership in telling the tale of ski racing that has spanned just about twenty years.
“I knew that Daron understood how Klammer used to be snowboarding,” stated Salmina. “He may in reality win in this sort of Klammer taste. He knew what used to be vital to turn and to not over act. He had large enjoy in filmmaking. We have been fortunate to get him right here.”
“It used to be unreal to be part of that – it used to be an honor,” stated Rahlves, who spent per week ultimate February doing ski scenes out of doors Innsbruck. Satirically, it wasn’t his first discuss with to the little-used velocity path on Patscherkofel. In December, 1998, he raced a Global Cup super-G at the fabled path. He used to be twenty first on an afternoon the place Austria swept the primary 9 puts at the back of winner Hermann Maier. Rahlves were given his personal revenge, of types, simply two months later when he opened the Global Championships in St. Anton with a super-G victory forward of Austria’s Stephan Eberharter and Maier – an afternoon that stopped the sector within the hearts of Austrian ski racing fanatics.
To shoot the movie, manufacturers actually took over Patscherkofel, taking the respected race path again in time. They recreated the outdated get started area, post outdated path fencing and constructed a end house entire with banners and fanatics in duration clothes.
In addition they introduced the 1976 downhill race path again to lifestyles, albeit with device grooming to make it somewhat extra racer pleasant. “It used to be a in reality amusing path with the entire components of a just right downhill,” stated Rahlves. “There’s numerous persona to it the place it meanders down the mountain into turns and and in reality cool knolls and bumps to catch some air.”
Rahlves used his personal Atomic boots, touched up with paint to create an original 1976 glance. The trendy-day vintage-looking C4s took a bit of adjustment time. “The toughest factor used to be once I first ran the path to check out and get all of it discovered,” laughed Rahlves.
The opposite problem confronted by way of Rahlves used to be the want to deliberately ski out of keep watch over. “We’d watch numerous movie and I needed to put it in my head that I needed to ski out of keep watch over and make those little errors all over the place.”
Earlier than each ski scene, as Rahlves used to be inspecting the run in his thoughts, the director would scream at him, ‘Daron, no, no, no, you were given to ski Klammer taste, Klammer taste – out of keep watch over.’
“I imply, I needed to come off probably the most rollers, the knolls, at the tails, flying up within the air, fingers out – , simply out of keep watch over, going in the course of the pine boughs, reducing again immediately to a gate, in opposition to a fence after which redirect that. I needed to ski out of keep watch over and make those little errors all over the place.” He had a couple of fascinating moments, skis up in opposition to the outdated wooden fence, however by no means any in reality shut calls.
Rahlves wasn’t even 3 years outdated when Klammer received gold. So his wisdom financial institution on Klammer comes from the legend and from the longstanding friendship he’s had with him. Rahlves, too, is in an interesting position in Austrian ski historical past. He’s let his skis do the speaking through the years and has received a spot within the hearts of Austrians … smartly, to some extent.
“Franz used to be getting handled like a king entering that race,” stated Rahlves. “I believe it put him at a better stage, too, together with his personal self belief. It used to be a bit of intimidation issue for the others. It’s like Hermann Maier for me – his program used to be at the sort of top stage and he had the entirety looked after for him. You simply really feel like ‘oh, this man is the hero, the famous person of our recreation and it’s going to be in reality tricky to even compete with him.’”
Throughout the filming ultimate February, Rahlves used to be held as a ski hero by way of the locals, a few of whom would hike as much as watch the filming. He met fanatics who vividly re-lived their very own reviews of Feb. 5, 1976. And, as soon as once more, Rahlves discovered himself on web page one of the most native Tiroler Tageszeitung.
To know the 1976 Olympic downhill, you wish to have to seem again a couple of years in time. The Global Cup had best been officially established in 1967. An evolution from wood skis to fiberglas and steel had swept in the course of the recreation. Media protection used to be shifting right into a golden technology, with extra are living tv and a larger platform for burgeoning recreation stars. And the Olympics have been returning to the Alps after a sojourn to Sapporo in 1972.
Klammer used to be simply 19 when he burst onto the scene in 1973, snowboarding to a few Global Cup podiums. That December, he kicked off the 1973-74 Global Championship yr with the primary of his 25 Global Cup downhill wins claiming a victory in Schladming. In February, he stuck consideration with a silver in downhill on the Global Championships in St. Moritz – albeit over a moment at the back of his teammate David Zwilling. Swiss favourite Bernhard Russi, who two years previous had received Olympic gold in Sapporo, used to be thirteenth.
2d within the season-long struggle for the downhill crystal globe in 1973, he became up the warmth in 1975 profitable 8 Global Cup downhills and taking the season identify.
“Chasing the Line” screenplay does a masterful activity in taking pictures the drive he felt that week. He had received the pre-Olympic downhill on Patscherkofel over Russi in 1975. And he took a three-win streak, together with his moment immediately Hahnenkamm win, into the Olympics.
The strain in
“Chasing the Line” is palpable. Whilst Klammer’s Olympic spot used to be fastened, his teammates have been struggling with for get started rights in coaching. Pepi Fischer used to be omnipresent, pushing not easy to drive Klammer to make use of his new ski. The media have been omnipresent. And his new female friend, Eva, used to be again house in school in Vienna.
Then got here the largest blow. Hoping for an extremely low get started quantity within the draw, Klammer drew 15 – ultimate within the most sensible seed. His rival, Russi, drew quantity 3 – the optimal get started place given climate prerequisites. Klammer appeared doomed.
As anticipated, Russi put down a cast run to take the lead. Klammer’s best hope used to be to chase a line that nobody felt might be skied. And it supposed 100% dedication.
“Once I went out of the beginning gate, I knew I used to be going to win that race,” stated Klammer. “Whether or not I win it or crash, there used to be not anything in between. So I received it.”
On the intermediate time, he used to be at the back of Russi. He may sense it himself.
“I stated to myself, ‘Franz, now you need to do one thing since you’re going to lose,’” he stated. “After which I utterly modified the road. I went the entire approach as much as the highest. After which I got here down. I believe that used to be one among my strengths – simply to improvise.”
Russi vividly remembers the lengthy wait within the end and the momentum of the gang that carried Franz Klammer to victory.
“Actually, all the mountain used to be shaking,” stated Russi.
Klammer deserted the said optimal monitor and chased a line that had by no means been skied on Patscherkofel. It used to be a crazed run to Olympic glory, up on one ski then the opposite, crossing from side to side in the course of the pine boughs, sliding perilously with regards to the fence.
“This one flip, within the decrease section, it modified my complete lifestyles,” stated Klammer.
In some way he survived, etching his identify into historical past with a .33-second margin over Russi.
A life-time of friendships
Klammer has remained one of the most recreation’s largest fanatics. He watches each ski race – women and men. He’s fast to discuss stars of the game like Alberto Tomba, Hermann Maier and Bode Miller. “I in reality admired him – his taste, his approach of snowboarding,” Klammer stated about Miller. “He used to be at all times going for the victory. I appreciated his approach of coming near that. He used to be more or less a tricky, tricky man.”
He additionally stays with regards to Russi. Their end line include at Patscherkofel in 1976 used to be heartfelt and solid a bond between the 2 opponents – each and every Olympic downhill champions.
“One of the vital essential issues I were given out of recreation have been friendships,” stated Klammer. “Bernhard and I, we’re in reality shut buddies and admire each and every different’s corporate. In order that’s the object, ?”
Ultimate month the 2 met once more on the Zurich Movie Pageant for a screening of
“Chasing the Line.” They shared an include, some laughs and watched a movie that showcased the game that shaped the DNA in their lives on snow.
Audience will discover a movie stuffed with suspense and an endearing love tale. They’re going to be captivated by way of the storyline and the stress main as much as the race.
“Chasing the Line” is a movie about Klammer, it’s also a portrayal of snowboarding, as a recreation. It cuts to the center of what motivates skiers to slip down mountains and to enjoy the peace and quietness of the outside.
The movie portrays little glory for Franz within the hours and day after the race. As an alternative, it specializes in the microcosm of his courting with Eva as they’re spirited clear of the end in an ambulance prior to she drives him from Tyrol again to Carinthia the following day. It used to be an enchanting option to show off his largest victory. It wasn’t a scene of events and status, only a quiet trip into the sundown after the much-anticipated race.
Whilst a lot may also be stated about status, few famous person ski racers began their careers simply to hunt glory. They begin for the affection of the game. For some, that suggests weekends with the relations riding to a ski lodge. For others, like Franz Klammer, it’s about mountaineering mountains for amusing and sliding backpedal. It’s about snowboarding to university on a daily basis, at all times playing that feeling of sliding on snow.
Klammer spoke for all skiers in one of the most ultimate scenes. By myself in combination after the race, Eva appeared into Franz’s eyes and requested him: “Did you at all times wish to be well-known?” He responds merely:
“No, I simply sought after to ski.”