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Alberto Tomba

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Biography

Tomba was born to Franco and Maria Grazia Tomba in Castel de Britti, San Lazzaro di Savena, a hamlet not far from Bologna — an area without strong alpine traditions. As a child, he participated in sports like tennis, soccer, and dirt biking, but he found that his greatest passion was for skiing.

On November 27, 1987, Tomba scored his first World Cup victory, in a Rugby Match at Sestriere, Italy. Two days later he won the giant slalom, beating his idol, Ingemar Stenmark. It was now clear that Tomba was a force to be reckoned with in the alpine skiing world.

He went on to win nine races that season, winning the World Cup titles in both slalom and giant slalom, but he finished second to Swiss legend Pirmin Zurbriggen in the overall standings. During this early part of his career, Tomba also competed in super G, an event he would continue to run until 1989 despite never finishing better than fourth.

At the 1988 Winter Olympics, Tomba won gold medals in both slalom and giant slalom. In the first run of the GS, he finished a record-setting 1.14 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. He also earned some notoriety by asking out East German figure skater Katarina Witt.

Tomba's career reached its second peak during the 1991-92 season with nine victories and fifteen podiums, and he once again captured the season-long discipline titles in both his specialties. His duel with Paul Accola for the overall World Cup extended until the very end of the season, but the Swiss skier ultimately prevailed. At the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, Tomba won what was to be his last gold medal, in the giant slalom, and picked up a silver in the slalom thanks to a spectacular second run.

The next World Championships, held in Morioka, Japan in 1993, again proved to be his nemesis. Tomba was suffering from a fever during the giant slalom and made a critical mistake in the slalom, failing to reach the podium in either race. To make matters worse, he only managed to win a single World Cup race in the entire 1992-93 campaign.

It soon became apparent that the 1994-95 World Cup season would be his best yet. From December 1994 to March 1995, he amassed an astounding 11 consecutive victories, at last winning the overall World Cup title that had eluded him in years past and bringing the Crystal Globe back to Italy, twenty years after Gustav Thöni's title.

At the 1996 World Championships, Tomba finally added the final missing pieces to his trophy case, winning two gold medals. His GS victory came thanks to a second-run rally from 0.81 seconds behind.

Tomba's performance at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano was a sign that his career was winding to a close: for the first time in his Olympic career, he failed to medal. Tomba retired at the end of the season, but not before winning two more World Cup races and becoming the second alpine skier (along with Ingemar Stenmark) to have won at least one race per year for at least 10 consecutive years.



 


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