Rising Austrian Skier Is Killed After Winning Downhill Race


Austrian skier Peter Wirnsberger was killed Sunday in a skiing accident shortly after winning a downhill race at Altenmark-Zauchensee, near Salzburg.

He died instantly when he skied into a wooden fence during an outing with his girlfriend between his victory and a delayed awards ceremony.

Wirnsberger, 24, was not related to his more famous Styrian namesake, Peter Wirnsberger, who has retired.

The young racer was regarded as a rising hope on the Austrian ski team, with potential in both the downhill and super-G events, and had already won a Europa Cup downhill at Igls, Austria.

Wirnsberger's death marks another twist in the fortunes of the ill-starred Austrian men's ski team, which has lost several members through accidents in recent years.

Racer Sepp Walcher was killed in 1984 during a recreational ski trip; team doctor Joerg Oberhammer was killed at the 1988 Calgary Olympics when he skied into a snow-grooming machine; three-time world champion Rudi Nierlich and trainer Alois Kahr were killed in a car accident in 1991, and Gernot Reinstadler was killed last winter during downhill training at Wengen, Switzerland.

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