Bill Johnson, the maverick skier, won America's first Olympic title at Sarajevo in 1984.
At the beginning of the Eighties, despite an excellent third place in the overall medals table at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, the US was still trying to win its first Olympic gold medal in Alpine skiing.
At the 1984 Games, Bill Johnson was not yet 24 years old, and it was his first Olympics. Despite having been part of the Alpine ski team for some years, he did not achieve significant results until that season. In Wengen, Switzerland, less than a month before the Sarajevo Games, he claimed his first victory in the prestigious World Cup series downhill event, showing great courage on his astonishing run.
When the day arrived, on February 22, 1984, Johnson demonstrated technique and confidence in jumps and speed peaks in a pure mastery of the downhill slope, bending as if he were made of rubber, slicing through the air and landing hard on the track of Bjelašnica. He succeeded in winning Olympic gold with apparent disarming ease.
Michela Figini’s alpine skiing career took off in 1983. She made her World Cup debut at age 16 in January. That year she captured bronze in the Giant Slalom World Junior Championships and had her first World Cup podium finish, third in the Downhill, one month later. She made an impression prior to the 1984 Winter Olympics by coming in second in the Super-G and winning a Downhill and a Combined event at the start of the World Cup season, but she was overshadowed by her compatriot Maria Walliser, who was a slight favorite in the Olympic Downhill. To everyone’s surprise, however, Figini’s time stood the onslaught of every other skier and, at age 17, she won Olympic gold 0.05 seconds ahead of Walliser.
Michela Figini, from Switzerland, was 17 years and 315 days old when she won the Ladies' Downhill at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympic Winter Games, making her the youngest alpine skiing Olympic gold medallist.