Bill Johnson: First US man to win Olympic alpine gold dies, aged 55

Bill Johnson
Bill Johnson won the men's downhill Olympic event in Sarajevo in 1984

Bill Johnson, the first American man to win an Olympic gold medal in alpine skiing, has died at the age of 55 after a long illness.

Johnson won the men's downhill event at the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo.

An attempted comeback at the age of 40 ended when he suffered a traumatic brain injury when he crashed during a training run in March 2001.

Johnson had been living in a care home in Gresham, Oregon, since suffering a major stroke in 2010.

The Los Angeles-born skier, who grew up in Oregon, came to prominence when he became the first male American skier to win a World Cup downhill race, in Wengen, Switzerland in January 1984, before predicting he would follow it up with an Olympic gold - which he did.

However, he subsequently fell out with US skiing officials. He had financial support withdrawn after turning up three days late for a training camp in 1985, and was suspended in 1988 for disciplinary reasons, failing to make the Winter Olympics team that year.

His attempt at a comeback in time for the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City ended with a crash at Montana's Big Mountain resort. He barely survived, suffering critical injuries, and spent three weeks in a coma.

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