Stefano Anzi and Thoeni’s cousin Rolando Thoeni all had World
Cup wins in the early 1970s. Franco Bieler and Fausto Radici followed along in 1976. Erwin Stricker was a definite player. Paolo
De Chiesa and Tino Pietrogiovanna were other young contenders, and the best established racer of the squad was Helmuth
Schmalzl, who scored his first Cup points in ‘69.
Beyond Gustavo Thoeni, Gros was the most productive for Italy in the ‘70s, thanks to 12 Cup wins, two World Championship
medals and the Olympic gold from the ‘76 slalom.
A fireball personality, Piero was remarkably consistent and excellent. He not only won the World Cup overall title in 1974, but also
A celebratory Gros in France.
was a top four finisher for five of six seasons from 1974 through
‘79, finishing eighth in 1978. Nearly three full years younger than
Thoeni, he was as much a prodigy as his older teammate, winning his first Cup race and adding a second win before the end
of December of his first campaign.
Fausto Radici was as unlikely a ski racing hero as time has
yet produced. The son of a wealthy industrialist with vision in
one eye, he was the 1973 Europa Cup champion and, in 1974,
was the third of three Italians among the top seven of the slalom
Franco Bieler was yet another technical specialist who scrapped
out a GS win at Mor-zine in 1976 and was
a consistent top 10
performer in both ‘76
Rolando Thoeni, beset by ankle injuries, won a pair of slaloms,
back to back, in 1972. He was generally said to be a faster junior
racer than Gustavo, and the injuries cost him dearly. He earned
the bronze medal in the Sapporo Olympic slalom.
Pietrogiovanna was an intregral part of the group. He scored
just two World Cup podium results, but made the top 10 in 10 of
his 18 placing results.
Schmalzl first made the Italian World Cup team in 1969, scoring
his first Cup points. He did not, however, score again until the ‘72
Olympics, when he placed sixth in slalom. He got his first podium
the next week.
One memorable race in particular demonstrated the power and
depth of the Italian men’s technical (slalom and GS) teams of
the early 1970s. On Jan. 7, 1974, at Berchtesgaden, the group
swept the top five positions led by Gros with Thoeni second, Erwin Stricker third, Schmalzl fourth and Pietrogiovanna fifth. All five