Alberto Tomba

Alberto Tomba

Alberto Tomba (born December 19 1966), popularly called "Tomba la Bomba" ("Tomba the Bomb"), is a retired Italian alpine skier. He scored notable success in the late 1980s and 1990s in the slalom and giant slalom, winning three Olympic gold medals.

Biography

Early years

Tomba was born in Castel de Britti, San Lazzaro di Savena, between Ozzano dell'Emilia and Bologna — an area without strong alpine traditions, but not far from the appenninic piste of Monte Cimone and Corno alle Scale. His father Charbel Tombeh and his mother, Sayde Succar are orginally from Becharre. As a child, he participated in sports like tennis, soccer, and dirt biking, but he found that his greatest passion was for skiing.

In 1981 he took part in the Junior World Championships, where a fourth-place finish won him a position on the national B team. That year, in a parallel slalom exhibition in San Siro, Milan, he surprised everyone by beating every member of the A team. After three wins on the Europa Cup circuit, the 19-year-old Tomba made his World Cup debut in 1985 at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy. One year later, in Åre, Sweden, he surprised the skiing world by finishing sixth from the 62nd starting position. His first podium came in Alta Badia, Italy at the beginning of the 1986-87 season, and later that winter he won bronze in the giant slalom at the 1987 World Championships in Crans Montana, Switzerland.

Rise to fame as Olympic champion

On November 27, 1987, Tomba scored his first World Cup victory, in a slalom 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 for italy. In the first run of the giant, he finished impressive 1.14 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. He also earned some notoriety by asking out East German figure skater Katarina Witt who he met again later on.

Tomba was not as successful in the following two seasons, winning a total of four World Cup races. At the 1989 World Championships in Vail, U.S., he could do no better than sixth place in the super G and a dismaying seventh in the giant slalom. From 1989 to the end of his career, Tomba was surrounded by his own technical staff managed by former champion Gustav Thöni and condition trainer Giorgio d'Urbano who patiently worked with him during ten seasons.

In the 1990-91 World Cup, Tomba returned to his winning ways, winning the giant slalom World Cup title for a second time while finishing fourth in the slalom standings. He ended a disappointing 4th in slalom at The 1991 FIS Worlds at Saalbach-Hinterglemm (Austria) and crashed in the second giant slalom run after having cloked the fastest time in the first leg, handing the victory to Austria's Rudolf Nierlich, the two-time winner at Vail, Colorado, two years earlier. In September 1991, he also met former Miss Italy, Martina Colombari, who he dated afterwards during several years. Colombari, a beautiful model from Riccione, became a successful TV announcer and finally married famous Italian soccer player Billy Costacurta.

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 technical specialties. His duel with Paul Accola for the overall World Cup crown extended until the very end of the season and the Finals at Crans-Montana, but the Swiss skier scoring points in all disciplins including downhill and combineds ultimately prevailed. At the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, Tomba won what was to be his last gold medal at Val d'Isère, in the giant slalom, and picked up a silver in the slalom thanks to a spectacular second run. In Val d'Isère, he became the first alpine champion to successfully defend an Olympic title when he won the giant slalom ahead of Marc Girardelli.

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.

Overall World Cup champion

Tomba was back to his usual ways at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. After the first run of the slalom, he was seemingly out of medal contention, 1.84 seconds behind leader Thomas Stangassinger, but a stunning second run rocketed him to second place and a silver medal.

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 victories in the technical events including seven in a row in slalom at last capturing 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 last title in 1975.

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

After the 1996 World Championships, Tomba began contemplating retirement. He decided to come back for one more World Championship, held in 1997 on his home snow in Sestriere. He was disqualified in the giant slalom and had a disappointing first run in the slalom, but an excellent second run was good enough for his last major medal, a bronze. He decided to continue competing for one more year.

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 after crashing badly in giant slalom. He suffered a painful injury and didn't manage to start in the second slalom run after losing much time in the first leg.

Alberto Tomba retired at the end of the 1997/98 season, but not before winning a last World Cup race at the Finals at Crans-Montana where he grabbed the slalom, becoming the only alpine male skier to have won at least one World Cup race per year for 11 consecutive seasons. Sweden's skiing legend Ingemar Stenmark won tons of World Cup races from December 1974 to March 1984 but failed to do so during the 1984/85 winter dominated by Marc Girardelli from Luxembourg and Swiss Ace Pirmin Zurbriggen.

Medals

Winter Olympic Games

*3 gold, 2 silver (see table)

Alpine skiing World Championships

*1987, Crans Montana: bronze in giant slalom
*1996, Sierra Nevada: gold in giant slalom, gold in the slalom
*1997, Sestriere: bronze in slalom

Alpine skiing World Cup

*50 victories (35 in slalom, 15 in giant slalom), including 7 consecutive slalom wins in 1994-95)
*28 second-place finishes
*11 third-place finishes


=

Race victories

External links

* [http://www.albertotomba.com AlbertoTomba.com] - official site
* [http://www.askmen.com/men/sports/31c_alberto_tomba.html AskMen.com] - interview
*FIS|S=AL|ID=61842
* [http://www.ski-db.com/db/profiles/tmbal.asp Ski-DB] - results and statistics
* [http://valtellina.myblog.it/video_alberto_tomba/ Videos of Alberto's Calgary Olympics victories]


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