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MEETING YOUR HEROES - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Tuesday October 10, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

It is apparently always a let down. But what if your hero meets you? It can be a nerve-wracking occasion!


Franz Klammer is one of the best skiers of all time. 

Some would argue THE best.

He dominated downhill ski racing for 4 World Cup seasons from 1975 to 1978.

He was the gold medalist at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, as he put in one of the most famous downhill runs of all time - check out the video at the end of this article.

He won 25 World Cup downhills, including four on the Hahnenkamm at Kitzbühel, Austria.

He holds the record for the most victories on the full course at Kitzbühel.

Going for gold at Innsbruck in 1976Going for gold at Innsbruck in 1976

















I was fortunate enough to be invited along to his golf day this week by the Austrian National Tourist Office - The Franz Klammer Wooden Spoon Reloaded Golf Classic. 

I am not a member of a club, I don't have a handicap and I have never played in a golf competition in my life.

I had to ask someone how to fill in my scorecard correctly. 

I am what is known as a 'hacker'. 

I assumed I could sink into the background, play my round, have a quick chat with Franz & pose for a photo, consume some of the wonderful Austrian food & drink that would be on offer and collect a goodie bag at the end of it all.  

And yet this is what greeted me as I walked into the Royal Mid-Surrey golf course in Richmond.     

Franz Klammer golf dayFranz Klammer golf day
















 

Surely some mistake.   

But there I was at the top of the board playing with the man himself. 

A couple of days earlier he was playing at St Andrews, the home of golf, in a Pro-Am event and next week he was to be in Italy.

He can hit the ball rather a long way.

Franz Klammer golf dayFranz Klammer golf day
















I would happily stand next to him at the top of a steep black run in any Austrian resort he cares to name , but the first tee of Royal Mid-Surrey way another matter altogether.  

My legs wobbled and my hands were shaking.  

Franz Klammer golf dayFranz Klammer golf day


















Now I won't bore you with the round as there is nothing duller than a golfer going through his round blow by blow. 

Suffice to say I recorded a par on the first.

It was the first of four on my scorecard. 

I even managed a birdie (pretty much unheard of for me) and each putt seemed to slot in.  

OK there was a decent sized wobble in the middle of the back 9 with a couple of 8s recorded, but I didn't care by that stage.

My golf had rarely been so good and I hadn't made a complete fool of myself.  

He had praised my putting, "boy you are on fire' was his comments to a few of my drives.  

And best of all I ended the match with the same ball I started with - I can't remember that happening before. 

It was not that I didn't go into the rough, more that Franz found my ball 4 times for me.  

Franz Klammer golf dayFranz Klammer golf day


















He was fabulous company with no ego and simply a fine fellow to pass 4-hours with.    

And then it was time to retire to the 19th hole to enjoy some legendary Austrian hospitality.   

Franz Klammer golf dayFranz Klammer golf day







X









With a few of his fellow Austrians.  

Franz Klammer golf dayFranz Klammer golf day
















Franz invited me to play golf with him again, "but before we do that you must come and ski with me this winter," he said.

Now that is an invitation I will gladly accept.

Not least because there is a new easyJet flight connection from London Gatwick to Klagenfurt which gives us Brits direct access to the province Carinthia and its ski resorts.

One of which is Bad Kleinkirchheim, Franz's home village.

Inghams and now Crystal go to the BKK ski area of Nassfeld. 

And if Franz can raise my skiing in the way he raised my golf game I had better let the selectors of Team GB know for Pyeongchang Wink

And just in case you want to watch THAT race... it still gives me goosebumps!




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