Moser-Proell enters the 1970s in excellent health. “But I also do something for it,” the Salzburg native refers to a still active life with mountain hiking, skiing and tennis. Everything with measure and goal, only the latter is currently being pursued more intensively by the passionate huntress. When she turns seven, she wants to do good and donate money with a charity tennis tournament in Vienna in May, in which she actively participates.
Moser-Proell celebrates her birthday “relaxedly”, she goes skiing with her family and her ex-rival friend Marie-Theres Nadig. “I won’t be at home, the door won’t close anymore,” says Moser-Proell with a smile. The life and career of the mountain farmer’s daughter, who was born on March 27, 1953 as the sixth of eight children in Kleinarl im Pongau, is definitely suitable as a film template. Like classmate Franz Klammer, Moser-Proell, who has actually only been called Moser since her marriage to Herbert Moser (deceased in 2008), has had a decisive influence on ski racing for a good decade and is still one of the legends of her guild.
Annemarie Moser-Proell: The athlete of the century turns 70
Annemarie Moser-Proell, Austria’s most successful ski racer to date, is celebrating her 70th birthday. The mountain farmer’s daughter from Kleinarl in Salzburg became the biggest international ski star in the 1970s. Her six overall World Cup victories are still unmatched in the women’s category. After five world championship titles, she crowned herself with the missing Olympic victory in 1980 in Lake Placid in the USA and ended her professional career.
62 World Cup victories long unmatched
Her 62 World Cup victories were a mark that lasted 35 years and was only surpassed by Lindsey Vonn in 2015 and then by her US compatriot Mikaela Shiffrin in 2019. The fact that Shiffrin, after Ingemar Stenmark, will also depose Moser-Proell from the throne is only logical for the Austrian. “I’ve had such a wonderful time, I don’t think about anyone taking the bullet record away from me. Mikaela is such a perfect skier that if she stays healthy, the sky is the limit.”
Photo series with 6 pictures
Eleven downhill victories in a row, Moser-Proell will probably not imitate that quickly. The cinematic nature of the life and career of “La Proell”, as she was respectfully called by the French press, is quickly described. She ended her first World Cup downhill run in Bad Gastein at the age of 14 crying and after several falls as the last. But the ambitious girl, who had learned to ski with her father’s roof shingles, quickly sparked a nationwide hype with her success and became the sporting superstar of her time.
No child of sadness
The fact that the Salzburg native was not a child of sadness also contributed significantly to the formation of her legend. When, despite being ill, she won all the races in Grindelwald and then emptied a few glasses of champagne, a stunned Swiss journalist wrote about the Austrian: “She smokes, she drinks and she wins.” Moser-Proell gave up smoking long ago. Even in the car, as a former hobby racer (“I was a huge Jochen Rindt fan”), at 70 she no longer puts the pedal to the metal like she did in her wild 70s.
In any case, Moser-Proell triggered a shock wave in ski-mad Austria when she announced her retirement at the age of just 23 after what had been her most successful season to date. By then she had already won two gold medals at the World Championships, 41 World Cup races and five big crystal globes in a row. The change of name criticized by the ski company, threatening letters and material discussions had severely dampened the desire to ski at “Annamirl” – as it was soon called by fans and the media. When his father also became seriously ill, Moser-Proell dropped out just before the winter of 1976 with the home Olympics in Innsbruck.
“I was really fed up at the time,” Moser-Proell became emotional on the subject, even 43 years after her resignation. The debts due to the Cafe Annemarie (today Cafe Restaurant Olympia), which opened during her time off, were one of the reasons why Moser-Proell returned to ski racing after all. Because of the commercials shot during the break from racing, however, she had to be re-amateurised. Moser-Proell stayed on for four more years – and finally resigned in 1980.
Six large crystal balls previously unmatched
In total, in eleven seasons between 1970 and 1980, Moser-Proell not only won six big balls, but also twelve discipline ratings and finished on the podium 114 times in over 200 World Cup starts. Nine World Championships and three Olympic medals complete the record of the five-time world champion. In the end there was also the longed-for Olympic gold in the downhill in Lake Placid (USA) in 1980, after she had only finished second as a huge favorite in Sapporo in 1972 and had just passed voluntarily in 1976.
A look back triggers less melancholy than more pride in the Salzburg native who was voted World Winter Sportswoman of the Century in 1999 in the Vienna State Opera alongside Muhammad Ali, Pele and Carl Lewis. Moser-Proell easily coped with the restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. “The children and young people in particular were poor,” says the grandmother of a 20-year-old grandson. “It should have been the time of their lives for them. And then they were practically only in the room. “Only so much: It helps if you have a clear goal and then pursue it consistently.” She herself wants to be remembered less as an athlete than as a person. “As a buddy. As a companion to steal horses with.”