After he became the first American to win Gold in the men’s downhill skiing event in the 1984 Winter Olympics, life dealt Bill Johnson a series of tough blows. ESPN’s newsmagazine program “E:60″ catches up with Johnson and looks back at what was and what could have been. Check your local television schedule for airing schedule.
Raised in Oregon, Bill Johnson, at age 23, challenged the long-established European domination of downhill ski racing. His victory on January 15, 1984 on the storied Lauberhorn course at Wnengen, Switzerland was the first for an American male in World Cup downhill competition.
A month later at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, he predicted victory, evoking comparisons to Joe Namath and Muhammad Ali and irking his European competitors. His scary yet inspired gold-medal run down the Bjelesnica course in a time of 1:45.59 defeated legend Peter Müller of Switzerland by 0.27 seconds. (check out those ski boots too!)
Bill mounted an improbable comeback bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The comeback ended abruptly on March 22, 2001, when he crashed during the downhill race of the 2001 U.S. Alpine Championships, held at The Big Mountain near Whitefish, Montana.
He sustained serious injury to the left side of his brain, and is continuing his recovery to this day.
Bill and his friends have formed the Foundation to promote Awareness, Prevention, and Recovery for these types of injuries. Please take a moment and visit their site HERE.