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Gold Medal Victory in Giant Slalom

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Copy of Canadian Press Newswire story from 1968

Nancy Greene Streaks to Gold Medal Victory in Giant Slalom
Thursday, February 15, 1968

GRENOBLE, France (CP) - Nancy Greene of Rossland, B.C., zigzagged down the Chamrousse slopes at breakneck speed this morning, won the Olympic gold medal for Canada in the women's giant slalom and clinched the world combined championship. The powerful little Canadian turned in a fantastic run of one minute, 51.97 seconds to win the gold by a margin of 2.64 seconds, one of the widest in the history of a major skiing event. Greene, who lifts weights nearly twice her 124 pounds as part of a Spartan training regimen, won the combined title by placing second in the slalom and 10th in the downhill.

Today, she started ninth down the 1,610-metre course of 68 gates and a drop of 450 metres. After her amazing time was announced there was little doubt that she had won it. Annie Famose of France, who had a clocking of 1:54.61, was second to take silver medal and the third-place bronze went to Switzerland's Fernande Rochatay in 1:54.74.

Greene had missed the gold in the slalom Tuesday by only 29-100ths of a second as her arch-rival, Marielle Goitschel, snatched it away for France. Greene had to settle for the second-place silver. Today when Goitschel went down the slopes in 1:56.09, a time that was good enough for only seventh place, Greene broke into a combination of smiles and tears. She was hugged by everyone around her, including Famose.

"I think perhaps it was my greatest race ever," said Greene, the world's best woman skier in 1967 when she won the World Cup, barely ahead of Goitschel. The 24-year-old Canadian is the first athlete from her country to win two medals in Olympic skiing, and only the second Canadian skier ever to win a gold. Anne Heggveit of Ottawa won Canada's first gold ever in the slalom eight years ago at Squaw Valley, Calif. Canada's only other ski medallist was Lucile Wheeler of St-Jovite, Que., the bronze winner in 1956 when she placed third in the downhill.

Goitschel, disappointed by her own seventh-placing, said: "Nancy was much too good for me today. I congratulate her on her great victory."

Greene, Canada's athlete of the year in 1967, an honor she now is almost certain to repeat, has accounted for all of Canada's medals and points at the current Games. "I was determined to win or fall doing it," she said.

Now she will receive two gold medals. The Olympic one will be awarded at the Games ceremony when the Maple Leaf flag will be raised. The second gold is from the International Ski Federation for winning the world combined title.

There is no Olympic combined championship, but the federation recognizes Olympic Alpine events as world championships. Greene took the combined title with a total of 16.3 penalty points - the lower the points the higher the standing.

Goitschel was second with 36.00 penalty points, Famose third with 36.19, Isabelle Mir of France fourth with 40.79 and Austria's Olga Pall, the downhill gold medallist, fifth with 52.50. Greene called today's course "great" and said she had no difficulties on it. She agreed that nearly three seconds was "quite a bit" to win by, adding "I won nine international giant slaloms in the last two years, and I would have been disappointed if I had not won here." Greene, coughing periodically from congestion in her chest as a result of the tough race, said she believed a new psychological approach had helped carry her to her first Olympic victory.

"It was not a matter of luck - I don't think there is luck in racing" she said. "It was mostly psychology. I was too intense. I learned to relax."

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