US 1984 Olympic hero Johnson dead at 55

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LOS ANGELES: Bill Johnson, the 1984 Olympic downhill champion who helped spark US alpine ski racing, died on Thursday night (Friday in Manila) at an Oregon assisted living facility aged 55, the US Ski team announced. The Los Angeles-born racer burst onto the world ski scene in 1984 at age 23 by winning the Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen, the first World Cup downhill victory by an American man in the modern era. Johnson backed up the feat in the following month by winning Olympic gold in Sarajevo, then closed the season with victories at Whistler, Canada and on home snow in Aspen, Colorado. Johnson retired from competition in the late 1980s after a series of injuries, but tried a comeback for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

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