Kjetil Andre Aamodt - First Olympic Gold
First Olympic Gold
In 1992, Aamodt won the gold medal in the super-G and a bronze in the giant slalom at the Olympics in Albertville, France. That year he also won the gold medal for the giant slalom in the world championships. The following year, he won gold medals in the slalom and the giant slalom, as well as a bronze in the combined at the world championships.
In 1994, Norway hosted the Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, and Aamodt took home two silver medals, one in the combined, and one in the downhill event, as well as a bronze medal in the super-G. In 1996, Aamodt won a bronze medal in the super-G at the world championships, and in 1997, took home a gold medal in the combined at the world championships.
But he fared poorly at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, winning no medals. He told the Associated Press, "I felt like I hadn't done my job, and failed totally in both the super-G and combined. But I took the experiences from Nagano with me."
The following year, Aamodt redeemed himself by winning the gold in the combined and the bronze in the downhill at the world championships. He again won gold in the combined in the 2001 world championships, as well as a silver medal in the giant slalom.
Aamodt, at age 30, clinched his Alpine-record seventh Olympic medal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City by mastering the most difficult section of the super-G course. It was called the Buffalo Jump, because, as local legend had it, Native American hunters would chase buffalo over the precipice to certain doom at the bottom. The Olympians also had to make a hairpin left turn afterwards to avoid leaving the course. Although all the skiers survived Buffalo Jump, the turn forced many, including four of the top favorites, off the course. Of the 56 starters, 21 could not complete the course.
Aamodt, the third skier out of the gate, won his second gold medal of the Olympiad by completing the course one-tenth of a second better than runner-up Stephan Eberharter of Austria. Aamodt's winning time was 1 minute, 21.58 seconds.
Eberharter complained that he was insuffiently warned about that sharp turn after the Buffalo Jump. "I lost by a tenth of a second," Eberharter said. "That could have been the difference." Aamodt, unsympathetic, told reporters that super-G competitors get only one walk-through. "In the super-G," he said, "you inspect the course once and then you have a go at it. You make quick, good early decisions or you don't."
It was Aamodt's second gold of the Olympiad. Four days earlier, he won the men's Alpine combined. "To win [another] Super G after 10 years in the Olympics is just a dream come true," Aamodt told the Edmonton Journal's Rob Gloster. "I've worked hard all my life. I love skiing. I love competition. That's the secret of my success."