YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Mahre Brothers Still Double-Teaming the Slopes

February 13, 2002

They were identical twins, brothers from Yakima, Wash., who gave the U.S. perhaps its single greatest Olympic skiing moment.

Phil and Steve Mahre won slalom gold and silver at the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo. They put up inspiring performances that came from nowhere after both had suffered through a season of poor performances and a seeming lack of desire.

Heading into the Sarajevo Games, Steve had been 45th in the World Cup standings and Phil 62nd. Four years earlier in Lake Placid, Phil had won a silver, finishing behind only Swedish dominator Ingemar Stenmark. Stenmark was not allowed to compete in 1984 because he had turned professional.

Also missing from the field was another slalom star, Marc Girardelli, who had run afoul of citizenship rules by competing for Luxembourg while he was an Austrian citizen.

Five days before the slalom, Phil had finished eighth and Steve 17th in the giant slalom. Their skiing was called "desultory" in one news account and their attitude was considered "disrespectful" in another because Phil had made a comment about not needing a gold medal because he was already set for life.

With that as the setting, it was considered a big upset when, after the first of two runs, Steve was in first place and Phil in third.

Phil finished his well-executed second run first, then used a walkie-talkie to give hints to Steve on how the course was running.

Steve attacked his second round ferociously, too much so for winning a race where technical perfection matters as much as speed, and he finished second to his brother.

The brothers are still together. They are 44 and live in Yakima. Steve has two children; Phil has three.

According to Steve, the brothers make their living in the ski industry. They run the Mahre Training Centers in Keystone, Colo. "It is a skiing enhancement center for everyone, from beginner to expert," Steve said. Steve also participates in a mentoring program for the U.S. ski team development programs.

The brothers occasionally participate in what Steve calls "old-man races."

Steve is working on restoring his home, a 1902 brick Victorian, and Phil is helping his in-laws build a home. Phil also built a private water skiing lake for his family.

"The memory of 1984, of winning a medal and being able to share it with my brother and family, is an amazing memory," Steve said. "Sometimes it feels like a long time ago, some days it feels like just yesterday. Winning the medal on the same day in the same event as my brother is something that is hard to describe. It was just a great moment in time that will always be treasured. We've always been close and that event in our lives only strengthened this feeling."

The brothers learned to ski after their father took a job as mountain manager at the White Pass Ski Area in Washington.

The Mahres competed in three Olympics (beginning in 1976) and Phil is the only American male skier to medal in two Olympic Games. Phil was the first skier inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1992 and one of only three men (Stenmark and Gustavo Thoeni of Italy were the others) to win the World Cup overall championship three years in a row (1981, 1982 and 1983).

Diane Pucin

Los Angeles Times Articles