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Schneider, Vreni (1966—)

Schneider, Vreni (1966—)

Swiss Olympic alpine skier. Born in 1966 in Elm, Switzerland; daughter of shoemaker Kaspar Schneider.

First female alpine skier to win three gold medals and the first to win five medals in the Olympic Winter Games.

Vreni Schneider was born in 1966 in Elm, Switzerland, and grew up in that picturesque town near a ski resort in the Swiss Alps. She began skiing at the age of three and was competing in races by the time she was in the first grade. Schneider advanced rapidly through the ranks of the national team and at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, Canada, won gold medals in both the slalom and the giant slalom events. In a sport generally measured by tenths-of-seconds, Schneider won the giant slalom a full second ahead of any other competitor. She startled audiences by winning the slalom by 1.68 seconds in what was termed "the most brilliant single effort of the Alpine in women's Olympic history."

From 1984 to 1992, Schneider won a staggering 38 World Cup races, far outdistancing any other skier of her generation. In 1989, she had a remarkable year, winning the World Cup and setting a record with 14 wins. At the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, Schneider overcame a herniated disc that had hampered her at the 1992 Olympics and the 1993 World championships. Though some predicted she would never place, Schneider earned a silver medal in the combined event, a bronze medal in the giant slalom, and a gold in the slalom. Still competing at the close of the 20th century, Schneider opened a sporting-goods store in her hometown of Elm.


Johnson, Anne Janette. Great Women in Sports. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink, 1998.

Bonnie Burns , Ph.D., Cambridge, Massachusetts

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