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Alberto “La Bomba” Tomba

Alberto “La Bomba” Tomba

While many people certainly respect shy, reserved people of sports who do their job with grace and stay silent in respect to their obvious talents, there’s also a place in sport for bombastic personalities. This was proven when Alberto “La Bomba” Tomba took the Olympics by storm in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada.

Before Alberto burst onto the scene, no one had ever considered a skier to be an actual celebrity. These days, many tend to follow in Tomba’s footsteps with their outlandish behavior and cock-of-the-walk attitudes.

Alberto Tomba

Born on December 19, 1966 in San Lazzaro di Savena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy, Alberto Tomba, known as La Bomba, is a retired alpine ski racer who represented his home nation in many World Cup events and in the Olympics on multiple occasions. Throughout the late 1980s and early ‘90s, Alberto dominated the alpine scene, and not only because of his talent for the sport.

Tomba was always a bombastic personality. If you didn’t know who he was, he would be quick to tell you. And if someone didn’t believe he was the best skier in the business, Tomba would waste no time proving his worth on the slopes. He had hair like Elvis, swagger like Jagger, and enough confidence to fill a dump truck.

The First Rock Star of the Slopes

Tomba would enter the Olympics as one the favorites due to his domination of the World Cup a year previous. He would score his first—and biggest—victory in the slalom race in Italy, beating Ingemar Stenmark, Tomba’s idol, only two days later in the giant slalom. During that season, Alberto won an impressive 9 races, and while he wasn’t ranked as the #1 skier out there, he certainly felt he should have been.

During the 1988 Games in Calgary, Tomba made a name for himself before ever taking the slopes. The ladies swooned over his presence, and the media couldn’t get enough of this bombastic Italian with perfectly groomed hair. He was also a larger man, especially when compared to other athletes in his event. He looked more like a rugby player than a skier, and it was obvious that Tomba would rather be entertaining the crowd than practicing. He was one of those athletes who relied almost entirely on natural ability rather than preparation.

Amazingly, his almost-flippant attitude paid off for him on his first race. He easily won the slalom to earn a gold medal, and in his first attempt on the giant slalom, he finished more than a full second ahead of his next closest competitor. In longer races, this is a short margin. But in the slaloms, a full second might as well be a light year.

However, winning 2 gold medals in his 2 events is not where La Bomba’s story stops for the Winter Olympic Games. He also earned a bit of fame for asking German skater Katarina Witt out on a date. And while those results proved futile, rumor has it that Alberto asked Witt out on multiple occasions, refusing to give up.

In the 1992 Olympic Games, Alberto would win another gold medal and a silver to go along with it, dropping off to only a single silver in the 1994 games. However, Tomba is the most decorated alpine skier in history, having racked up an impressive win total on the international stage.

He was never able to duplicate the initial success of his first Olympic run, but with 6 Alpine World Ski Championships to his credit, Tomba is widely recognized as one of the best to ever strap on the skis, even though he only ever seemed to approach the sport halfheartedly.

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