The question was not so much Can Rosi Really Race? Nor was it Will Rosi Win the World Cup? After the three-medal show she had staged at the Olympics, skiing her way into instant celebrity, the one thing that everyone wanted to know about Miss Mittermaier was more simply, Is Rosi for Real? They found all the answers when World Cup competition resumed last week at Copper Mountain, Colo. Rosi can, indeed, race like crazy. She did, indeed, win the overall championship. And all the other rosy things they say about her are true.
The plot was corny, but somehow it worked. The Colorado races, the 12th of 14 stops on the four-month circuit, marked Rosi's first return to battle since Innsbruck. The Olympics, which don't count for World Cup points, had been a happy punctuation in the season, but the world title has been her goal all along. After Innsbruck, Rosi had been mobbed by possessive throngs. She had fled to the U.S. early, hiding out in a $117 a day hotel suite near Lake Tahoe. Some escape: she was introduced to standing ovations at dinner. And with the furor and pressure continuing to grow, she could well have blown the Colorado meet.
Not Rosi. She swept the giant slalom away from 53 rivals, followed home by Cindy Nelson. Next day Rosi beat everybody at slalom. The two victories locked up the overall and slalom titles and moved Mittermaier into a close second in the giant slalom standings.
After the Rosi show, there were unexpected rewards for the Americans when Greg Jones won the giant slalom, followed by teammate Phil Mahre for the first U.S. men's one-two finish in World Cup history. Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark won the slalom, while that other Olympic celebrity, Austria's Franz Klammer, was clearly saving himself for the downhill in Aspen, where the circuit moves this weekend.
March 15, 1976
On the sidelines, absorbing a quick course in Americana over a lunch that consisted mainly of cherry pie, Rosi was surrounded. People tapped her, patted her, hugged, tugged and squeezed her. If she had been a doll, all her stuffing would have come out. She gave them all the dimpled smile that she should patent. "Everything is perfect, wonderful, fantastic," she said. Then she collected her trophies while her West German teammates sang Rosi, Rosi, Once Again in waltz tempo, with the Americans humming along. There was one final touch. It was announced that the slalom course will be named in her honor. It will forever be known as Rosi's Run.