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Gianmario Bonzi
Gianmario Bonzi
Giornalista e commentatore di sport invernali

photo by Getty Images

The big surprises Olympic (8): Bill Johnson and the promise kept!

Le grandi sorprese olimpiche (8): Bill Johnson e la promessa mantenuta1
SARAJEVO (Bosnia) - In the game of international reconciliation (apparent), battered by snow and cold, but very beautiful under points visas, here is the amazing story and in some ways tragic story of a boy with a hard shoulder, some rich talent, with that swagger and class went to win the first gold medal'' A Five Rings Alpine skiing American promettendola to the public and media already several weeks before .... The Californian disappear then taken from the White Circus as a meteor and is today fighting for his life after personal tragedies and many physical problems.
In 1984, Yugoslavia's alpine skiing events, without Stenmark, Hanni Wenzel and Marc Girardelli give unexpected triumphs at American team. In particular, c'' is a California boy of 23 years, William Dean said Bill Johnson, from Los Angeles, winner of the European Cup in 1983, self-proclaimed, on the eve of the Olympic downhill, the only favorite to win end, and that will keep the promise to everyone's surprise. At age 17, Bill,'' a difficult adolescence, had been caught in fragrant while attempting to steal a car. The judge appointed to decide his fate, became aware of the fact that the boy was gifted with a special talent skiing, instead of sending him to prison sent him to a reformatory that was actually a Ski Academy, changing the fate her and the United States in the sport. Bill burned the stages, came to the National team in the 1983 season - 84'' arrived at the World Cup, he left quietly, but in Wengen, a myth of the descent of the White Circus, January 15, 1984, he won in front of two Austrians, Steiner and Resch, then clearly talking to a month before the Games in Sarajevo: "At the Olympics will win the gold medal in downhill''. '' Here is the trend of the season's World Cup downhill in 1983-1984:  ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  After Wengen, Johnson shoo evil in Kitzbuehel and Garmisch,'' but in the last race before the Olympics in Cortina, finished fourth and suddenly began to become an outsider in the race for the Five Rings, more raggione considering the fact that the descent of Sarajevo did not have too many curves, it was not difficult and was perfectly suited to the characteristics of'' American, the best in the case of pure sliding. Once in Bosnia, in the five trials that preceded the race, Bill was overall the best as placements and at that point had no doubt in the conference pre-descent: "I do not even know what we do here other athletes - he said - I deliver the gold medal''. compete for second place. " Snow and wind then forced the organizers to postpone the descent for three days, but Bill was unflappable, "Everyone knows that is my track," he repeated. And his word. He went down with the bib # 6, with his style certainly not flawless, but an ability to keep the skis flat on the ground only. After the race, he was told that Austrian and Swiss complained about the ease of the track, claiming that Johnson had won just because the track was "not at all difficult." He answered: "But if it was so easy, why have not won their own which are the best ones?". His unexpected victory sent him into a frenzy American sports, though he made purists turn up their noses at the skiing of our continent, caught off guard by this skier who faced the curves so reckless, and just when it seemed to lose his balance , managed to get into perfect position, even more than before darting. The day after the race, ironically on his difficult adolescence, during which he had met the reformatory, a British newspaper had come to call "Sarajevo: A car thief stole the gold medal.". Insensitive to the taunts, the twenty-three Bill Johnson felt carried away by the wind of success, and with a dash of cynical optimism, to a reporter's question about the meaning of his Olympic victory had replied: "He wants to know what it means to me? Millions. So many millions. "As a character he had collected the sympathy of the American public, and a year later was made a television movie about his triumph in Sarajevo. But after winning two races of the World Cup downhill in Aspen in Colorado and Whistler Mountain in Canada in March 1984 (and also the Cup of specialty), before an injury to the knee, then the shoulder had obscured the following season . The recovery hoped would not happen, and his subsequent appearances would not have seen him in high-ranking positions. The coaches of the U.S. team were of the opinion that the condition of her form was no longer optimal, and when he had reproached him, had made him froth. It had resulted in a verbal altercation that the passionate Bill had peppered with insults from the barracks. They were approaching the days of the Olympics in Calgary in 1988, and it was so played their last chance to take part in the squadron with stars and stripes. The following year, at just twenty-nine, announces his retirement from the sport life, and his wife began a new life traveling around the United States, with an RV that will serve as the new home for almost ten years. But past the romantic enthusiasm for this adventure in the footsteps of the characters in Kerouac, and quickly squandered the gains after the Olympics, the pair will face serious economic hardship, and survive by their wits, such as organization, then failed, a circus of old glories of skiing, along with other unfortunate forays entrepreneurship sports. To this will be added in 1992, the tragedy of the loss of the first of three children born to a domestic incident, until the end of the nineties Bill Johnson will be abandoned by his wife with the rest of the family in tow. This is especially beating the harder to bear and at that point his main desire becomes to regain the lost companion. He begins to balenargli in mind a shot effect: return to compete in the downhill, possibly for the upcoming Olympics in Salt Lake City. In this case, however, the reality is more complicated dream, and despite the tough workouts that you submit, ultraquarantenne now, can not be sufficiently competitive against younger and more physically exuberant opponents. The unflinching will to succeed is greater awareness of the physical limits, and March 22, 2001, while falls in evidence before a race in Montana loses control of the skis and ruin violently against a block of snow. The spectators on the edge of the track they hear a cry for help heartbreaking and desperate. The first aid arrive after a few moments, but the face of the former sample is already covered by the blood dripping profusely from the mouth and ear. Transport to the hospital is just as accurate, and Johnson is operated to remove a visible cerebral hemorrhage. Its fiber athlete manages to save his life, but the effects are devastating accident: his cognitive faculties are definitely compromised, and the entire right side of the body is paralyzed irreversibly. After one hundred days of hospitalization in a rehabilitation center, his health insurance did not allow him to stay another time, and is sent home to be entrusted to the care of the elderly mother. The news of his accident has deeply affected the American world of skiing, which is readily mobilized to raise the funds necessary for its assistance. In particular, the former U.S. champion Phil Mahre, his friend and star of the documentary "Downhill: The Bill Johnson Story" along with Franz Klammer and himself, has never ceased to engage in fund-raising for his cause. - See more at: