Olympic Missing Links, Part 6

Today, we are continuing our look into Olympians for whom we believe to have identified their date of death but, for whatever reason, we are unable to connect the information, such as obituary or public record, conclusively to the athlete. As we were deciding on a theme for this week, we noticed that there were three remaining Winter Olympians yet to be discussed who fall under these criteria, and decided that they would be good subjects to focus on for today’s blog entry, particularly as the holidays are approaching.

 

Walter Heinzl – Member of Czechoslovakia’s bobsleigh delegation to the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Olympics

Like many bobsledders of his era, there is very little that we can say for certain about Walter Heinzl, not even his year of birth, as many of these individuals did not have lengthy and dedicated careers in the sport. The only information that we know is that he represented Czechoslovakia as a member of one of its four-man bobsleigh teams at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Olympics and came in 12th. An anonymous user on Wikipedia suggested that he was shot down over Japan during World War II, but we cannot even confirm that this was not vandalism, let alone whether or not it was accurate and refers to the Olympian.

 

Emil and Herta Ratzenhofer – Representatives of Austria in pairs figure skating at the 1948 St. Moritz Winter Olympics

Emil and Herta Ratzenhofer had successful pair figure skating careers in their native Austria, winning the Austrian Championships every year from 1946 through 1949, as well as 1943, coming in third in 1950, and winning the German Championships in 1944. They also won bronze medals at the European Championships in 1948 and 1949 and came in 11th and 5th respectively in those years at the World Championships. In their sole Olympic appearance in 1948, they were ninth. Emil also won bronze in the singles championships in 1938 and 1939. Despite all of this, information on their later lives is scarce, with Emil, born August 2, 1914, listed as having died on December 17, 2005 by the German-language Wikipedia. As for Herta, born June 27, 1921, the Vienna grave index at http://www.friedhoefewien.at/ lists an Anna Ratzenhofer, born June 25, 1921, as dying on April 10, 2007, although it is unclear if Herta and Anna are the same individual. For both, we have been unable to locate additional sources to confirm this information.

 

We are a bit busier this time of year than we usually are, so that is all we have for today, but we hope that you will join us next week, as we continue to look into these Olympic missing links!

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