Winter Olympics Memorable Moments: Alberto Tomba
The big Italian with the even bigger hair
by Gerry Brown
He was the best slalom skier in the world, and he made sure that everyone he met was aware of it. His natural talents overcame his lack of discipline and his wandering eye, and he became the first skier to achieve rock-star status.
In 1988 at Calgary, he won the gold medal in both the slalom and the giant slalom, becoming the first Alpine skier in eight years to win two gold medals at a single Games.
At Albertville in 1992, he successfully defended his gold in the giant slalom and took silver in the slalom. In 1994 at Lillehammer, Tomba won the silver in the slalom for his fifth and final Olympic medal.
Tomba is the most decorated male Alpine skier in Olympic history. But his successes were not restricted to the Olympic stage.
In 1995 he took home the World Cup overall men's title along with the slalom and giant slalom crowns. In fact, his 50 career World Cup victories are exceeded only by Alpine legend Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden. In 1996 Tomba won gold in the slalom and giant slaloms at the World Championships.
Infamous for his larger-than-life appetite for more than just food, the notorious playboy became an international star and Italian national hero. He was linked to scores of beautiful women, including fellow Olympian Katarina Witt.
The flamboyant and wonderfully arrogant Tomba was the rare personality that transcended his sport and for that, as much as for his five Olympic medals, he will not be soon forgotten.