Bill Johnson, the skier who became the first American to win a gold medal in Alpine downhill skiing at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, died today in an assisted living facility in Oregon at the age of 55.
I do remember Johnson winning the gold being a rather big deal at the time. In particular, I remember him appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. That was a long time ago. Carson was still at the helm of The Tonight Show and Yugoslavia was still a country.
I must admit I hadn't given Johnson much thought since that time, but evidently the years after his gold medal triumph were not kind to him. For lack of a better way of putting it, Johnson's life simply went downhill. Sure he didn't help himself by partying too much which resulted in him not making the U.S. Olympic team for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. His fall continued with divorce, bankruptcy and the drowning death of his infant son.