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First you go to Friesach, a tiny village perched way up on an Austrian slope near the Yugoslav border. Then, carefully please, you go way, way up from there, up a snaking narrow road, up past the rock slides, ice patches and several rivulets spilling across your course until you see more than one barn. That is Mooswald.
Next you must wind around the peaks of Upper Bavaria in search of Reit im Winkl, a hamlet that is just a hairpin turn or two inside West Germany's southern frontier. Then you go four miles thataway until you find the man with a two-way radio who checks topside to see if the one-lane route up the precipice is free. If so, you then spiral ever heavenward between glacial drifts—caution: goats have the right of way—until you level off ever so imperceptibly. Welcome to the suburb of Winklmoosalm.
Why exactly would anyone risk these ascents? Well, hundreds have been making the pilgrimage the past few weeks. At Mooswald, the faithful point to a 200-year-old farmhouse with a new cafe tacked on called Gasthaus Klammer. That, they whisper, is where Franzi lives. Over at Winklmoosalm the acolytes stand vigil around a modern chalet overlooking a sweep of snow-veined summits. Peeking in the windows, the assembled explain that not only is this the Mittermaier place but also maybe Rosi herself is resting inside.
And was the long, zigzagging pull worth it? Ach, everyone says, those are not really bad roads at all, those are actually the great white ways that the Wunderkinder skied down to go to school, the boulevards that led to an El Dorado of Olympic gold.
Though the flames of the 12th Winter Olympiad have been extinguished, the afterglow of two of its brightest stars, Austria's Klammer and West Germany's Mittermaier, still burns, indeed rages on. Back in the crush of things after two weeks of post-Olympic seclusion, both expressed a longing to escape to the U.S. and the relative calm of the World Cup races. Hounded by hordes of admiring snow bunnies at the Austrian championships, Klammer sighed, "Ah, peace. When I go to America in a few days I will have peace because I am not so well known over there."
Mittermaier, under heavy police protection before attending a send-off costume ball in Munich, was so besieged that she showed up as a veiled harem girl so she could move about incognito. "The jubilation is nice, wonderful, but what's happening now is unimaginable," she said. "Oh, my, I hope the pressure will die down now that I am off to the U.S."
Die down, perhaps, but not too much. Framed by TV screens the world over, celebrated in endless replays and reams of print, Franzi and Rosi are the new darlings of a vast and demanding public, millions of whom wouldn't know a schuss from a schnitzel.
Klammer and Mittermaier are snowbound opposites. He is the dashing young prince of the peaks, a 22-year-old downhiller who races with a reckless �lan that can only be described as scary. She is a plugaway veteran of 25, the sweet "Granny" who has been riding the World Cup circuit since its 1967 inception. He looks like a youthful Paul Newman, exudes the confidence of the hustler and moves through life as if somebody up there likes him. She is the dimpled Bavarian who seems more at home in her dirndl singing folk songs to the accompaniment of a zither.
Klammer was the favorite at Innsbruck, the winner of an extraordinary 12 of 17 downhills during the past two World Cup seasons, four out of eight this winter. Mittermaier was at best a contender. Though ranked in the top 10 in all three Alpine events, she often seemed to be a Renaissance skier lost in an age of specialists. The rest is instant-replay history: Franz prevailed with a thrilling breakneck downhill burst, and Rosi stunned all by winning gold medals in the slalom and downhill—her first major victory ever in the latter event—and adding a silver in the giant slalom.
For all their disparate ways, what unites Franz and Rosi, finally, is not only their triumphs but a common natural resource. They are still basically children of the mountains with all the untainted open qualities that implies. When asked what madcap continental adventures he was going to indulge in after the Games, Klammer allowed, "My father already has the pitchfork waiting for me. We have to spread the dung for the spring planting."