Four Olympic medals as a luger from the GDR, four as a coach from Austria. Klaus Bonsack wrote history in his sport. Now the native of Thuringia died in his adopted home of Innsbruck at the age of 81.
The sport of luge mourns the loss of an Olympic champion: Klaus Bonsack died on Sunday (March 5) at the age of 81, the World Federation FIL announced on Monday. “The FIL family mourns Klaus Bonsack with deep sympathy for his wife and two children and fond memories of an extraordinary personality. We will always have fond memories of Klaus Bonsack,” said FIL President Einars Fogelis.
Strong athletic record
For the GDR he won gold in the doubles with Thomas Köhler and bronze in the singles at the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble. He also won Olympic medals in Innsbruck in 1964 (silver in singles) and in Sapporo in 1972 (bronze in doubles). In 1972, Bonsack was also the flag bearer of the East German Olympic team. Bonsack was also world champion in doubles in 1967. After the 1972 games, the eleven-time East German champion ended his active career.
Double Gold in the “Cold War”
Bonsack described the gold medal from Grenoble as the most valuable medal. “Because at that time the whole atmosphere was completely overheated and we had to endure a tough test of nerves after five days of waiting in the thaw.” Three women from the GDR were disqualified because of allegedly heated runners. Bonsack still wins with Köhler.
Four Olympic medals with Austria
Bonsack made his first attempts on the sled in Friedrichroda, later he became a world-class athlete in Oberwiesenthal. After his active time, he worked as a technician on the development of the sled. From 1990 he looked after the athletes from Austria, and Dorit Neuner surprisingly won Olympic gold in 1992 under his aegis. The Austrian team took home four medals in total. In 2004, Bonsack was one of the first members to be inducted into the FIL Hall of Fame, and in 2012 he became an honorary citizen of Friedrichroda. The former world-class athlete had suffered from Parkinson’s for 15 years and also suffered a stroke. He died in his adopted home of Innsbruck.