Once the skis are on and the sunglasses readjusted, Italy’s la Bomba clears his mind and scans the horizon … the light turns green, and off he goes. Zigzagging like a ram, Alberto Tomba stormed the slopes of the whole world, building a reputation and a first-class list of titles. Today, he is celebrating his 40th birthday and has lost none of his explosiveness.
Alberto Tomba’s Olympic career began in Calgary in 1988. The young skier, then aged 21, put on an unexpected and spectacular performance for his first experience. Indeed, he participated in two Alpine skiing events and took no fewer than two gold medals. In the slalom, he narrowly beat Germany’s Frank Wörndl by six hundredths of a second and thus finished at the top of the final ranking. In the giant slalom, he beat Austria’s Hubert Strolz by 86 hundredths of a second and took his second gold medal. The Italian skier ended this edition with two golds, and confirmed his explosive and dynamic style.
In Albertville in 1992, the Italian had barely recovered from a fractured collarbone and had some extra weight to carry. Opinion was divided: would he provide a repeat performance of Calgary? Faithful to his reputation, he managed a very good downhill and took the gold in the giant slalom. La Bomba was back! A few days later, he attempted to repeat this performance in the slalom, but missed out on the gold by 28 hundredths of a second when he was beaten by Norway’s Finn Jagge.
In Lillehammer in 1994, he again took part in the same events, which were by now his specialities. Everything began on 23 February with the giant slalom: the amatore di pasta was unable to complete the event and found himself out of the ranking. Four days later, he took part in the first round of the slalom, in which he finished 12th after having missed a gate. The gold medals of 1988 and 1992 seemed but a distant memory. But Alberto never gave up and performed an extraordinary second round that led him directly to the second step on the podium.
In Nagano in 1998, he took part in his fourth Olympic Games, but did not win any medals. A few months later, he announced his retirement.
Some years later, a jack of all trades, Alberto Tomba, working with perfumer Lancaster, launched a perfume named Indescente. Promoting several brands, he also featured in various glossy adverts and was at the centre of promotional events. In 2000, he tried his hand at acting in the Italian film Alex l’ariete.
In 2000, la Bomba received the Olympic Order from Juan Antonio Samaranch at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne - a decoration which recognised the first Alpine skier to have won two gold medals in the same event (giant slalom), to have won five Olympic medals, and to have taken home Olympic medals from three different editions of the Winter Games.
Ciao la Bomba!