Skiing / Bob Lochner : Stenmark Is Not Ready for Retirement

Ingemar Stenmark has been racing on the World Cup circuit since 1974. On Tuesday, he’ll be 30. He’s earned--and kept--several million dollars. He has a wife and an infant daughter. So, how about it, Ingemar, when are you going to retire?

“I am going to ski at least one more year,” the no-longer bashful Swede said this week at Heavenly Valley. “After that, I will decide. Maybe it will be two more years. I will take them one at a time.”

Two more years, of course, would bring Stenmark up to the 1988 Winter Olympics at Calgary, Canada. He was barred from the 1984 Games at Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, because he had taken out something called a B license, which permitted him to earn unlimited amounts while retaining his eligibility for World Cup races but went a bit too far for the International Olympic Committee.

Now, with the IOC talking about eliminating all pretense of amateurism, Stenmark said: “I believe I would be able to compete at Calgary because the Olympics will then be open to everyone.”


Surprisingly, Stenmark, who has won 82 World Cup races, said he is now skiing better than when he was younger, “at least, when I am skiing good. Here, I did not ski so good. I was too slow and on my edges too much in the second run (of Tuesday’s slalom). But I was happy to finish third.”

Stenmark, the World Cup overall champion for three straight years, 1976 through 1978, until they changed the scoring system to weight it against skiers who don’t enter the downhill, said the giant slalom last Dec. 15 at La Villa, Italy, was one of the three most satisfying races of his career, since it broke a 21-month victory drought. “My other most memorable races were at Lake Placid,” he said. There he won gold medals in the 1980 Olympic slalom and giant slalom.

Stenmark, who speaks excellent English after sticking to Swedish or German for many years except when absolutely necessary, has also opened up considerably. He laughs easily and seems at ease with the public and the media.

He even jokes about his residency in Monaco, which has enabled him to avoid his native country’s high tax rates. Asked if he has lost any favor with his fellow Swedes because of this, Stenmark laughed and said, “Oh, maybe just a little, but it is not a problem--not like it was with Borg,” a reference to Bjorn Borg, Sweden’s longtime tennis idol who also moved to Monaco several years ago.


The rest of the World Cup schedule:

MEN--Today and Sunday, downhill and super giant slalom at Whistler Mountain, B.C., Canada; Tuesday and Wednesday, two giant slaloms at Lake Placid, N.Y., the first a makeup of the one canceled at Aspen, Colo., last Sunday; March 22-23, slalom and parallel slalom at Bromont, Quebec, Canada.

WOMEN--Today and Sunday, downhill and super giant slalom at Vail, Colo.; Tuesday and Wednesday, slalom and giant slalom at Waterville Valley, N.H.; March 21-23 giant slalom and parallel slalom at Bromont, Canada.

Today’s downhill races should prove especially interesting since both the men’s and women’s World Cup titles in that discipline are still up for grabs.


Austria’s Peter Wirnsberger, with 120 downhill points, has clinched at least a tie for the championship, but Switzerland’s Peter Mueller, who has 115 after his victory last Saturday at Aspen, Colo., could gain a share of it by winning at Whistler.

Maria Walliser of Switzerland, who won the women’s downhill last Saturday at the Alberta resort of Sunshine, near Banff, Canada, and finished second to West Germany’s Traudl Haecher in Sunday’s giant slalom, will go into the Vail race with 115 downhill points to 110 for Katrin Gutensohn of Austria.

Three Southland ski areas have reopened after this week’s storms. Goldmine reported 12 to 24 inches of snow on its slopes Thursday, while Mountain High listed 12-24, and Snow Summit had 12-36.

In addition, Mt. Baldy, with 18-30, opened for the season Thursday.


Today, six more resorts plan to start or resume their seasons: Snow Valley, Ski Green Valley, Ski Sunrise, Shirley Meadows, Kratka Ridge and Mt. Waterman.

The women’s Pro Ski Racing event, which had been rescheduled for Snow Summit this weekend, has been canceled because of inadequate time for course preparation.

With only the $15,000 Earth Grains Cup at Kirkwood on March 22-23 remaining, defending champion Cathy Bruce holds a comfortable 28-point lead in the standings. After winning last Sunday’s giant slalom and finishing fourth behind winner Anne Millet of France in Monday’s giant slalom at Squaw Valley, the former U.S. ski team competitor has 230 points and $10,350 in earnings.

After Bruce, in order, are Bente Dahlum of Norway, with 202 points and $8,450; Muriel Dalmais of France, 201 and $9,800; Lyndall Heyer of the United States, 161 and $7,525, and Millet, 151 and $7,950.


Skiing Notes More snow has fallen throughout the High Sierra. Mammoth Mountain reported a total base of 185 inches. Neighboring June Mountain had 84 to 168. On the Western Slope, Badger Pass listed 86 and Sierra Summit 102 to 126. . . . The seventh race in the BMW Corporate Grand Prix of Skiing, to determine regional qualifiers for the national finals at Park City, Utah, on April 3-6, will be held this weekend at Squaw Valley. . . . Three stops remain on the Peugeot Grand Prix men’s pro ski tour--this weekend at Stowe, Vt.; March 22-23 at Stratton Mountain, Vt., and April 3-6 at Keystone, Colo. . . . Several hundred members of the Over The Hill Gang, International, will arrive in Reno Sunday for a week of skiing at Lake Tahoe resorts. . . . The seventh annual California Gold Rush 50-kilometer cross-country ski race is scheduled for Royal Gorge, near Soda Springs, March 23. . . . Yosemite’s 15th annual Badger Pass Winter Carnival will be held March 22.