United States of America USA

Alpine Skiing

  • Olympic Medals
    1 G
  • Games participations
  • First Olympic Games
    Sarajevo 1984
  • Year of Birth
Olympic Results



Bill Johnson won the 1984 Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen, Switzerland in January 1984, shortly before the Sarajevo Winter Olympics. But his win was derided by the European downhillers, who claimed he was only a glider, with no technical skills. But the Sarajevo downhill was also relatively non-technical and Johnson boldly predicted he would win, and repeated his victory there to become the first American to win an Olympic downhill gold medal, and the first American man to win an Olympic skiing gold medal. When asked what the victory meant to him, the brash, cocky Johnson replied, “Millions!” He won two more World Cup downhills in March 1984 and his future looked bright.

But the years ahead would not be as golden for Johnson. He had been a troubled youth who had troubles with the law when he was only 17, and he would never realize those millions. After 1984, he never again stood on the podium in a major international ski race, his best finishes in the World Cup being two seventh places – one in 1985 and one in 1986. He did not make the 1988 US Olympic team and he was off the circuit by 1990. Personally, Johnson suffered as well. In 1992, his 13-month-old son drowned in a hot tub accident. Shortly after that his marriage crumbled and he was left bankrupt, living in a motor home. His only salvation were his skis and he tried a comeback in 2000 to attempt to make the 2002 Olympic team. On 22 March 2002 he crashed at the US Championships near Whitefish, Montana. He sustained a significant closed head injury with permanent brain damage, and was in a coma for three weeks. He never fully recovered, and required constant personal aid, mostly given by his mother, until his death in January 2016.


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Olympic Results

More results
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

Sarajevo 1984

Downhill Alpine Skiing