Blogtober Day 23: Alberto Tomba

I took three things away from all those years of Italian classes in middle and high school: 1) the lingering urge to say "abbiamo finito" and "andiamo," 2) an excessive knowledge of Roberto Benigni's movies, and 3) this guy.

I discovered Alberto Tomba when my Italian teacher gave us an assignment to do on any famous Italian person we wanted. So, of course, I Googled "Italian Olympians" (or something of the sort) and his name popped up. I chose him for two reasons: he's one of Italy's most successful Olympians ever, and his nickname is Tomba la Bomba (Tomba the bomb). That might be my favorite sports nickname ever -- love the way it just rolls off the tongue!

Anyway, moving on from my high school reminiscences. Alberto was beating members of the national A team when he was still on the B team. He got onto his first podium in 1986, and then won bronze in the giant slalom at the 1987 world championships. Medals came fast and furious from there on; his first world cup came in slalom in 1987 before, two days later, beating his idol Ingemar Stenmark in the giant slalom for another gold medal. He won nine races in 1988, including two Olympic gold medals; in the first run of the giant slalom at the Olympics, he finished over a second faster than the next fastest competitor. That's basically an eternity. It was here that he was nicknamed Tomba la Bomba and became famous for his hard-partying ways. But more on that later.

Alberto won a gold and a silver medal at the 1992 Olympics, and another silver in 1994. In his career, he won nine season titles, won 50 races and finished on 88 podiums. He's the only male skier ever to have won at least one race per year for 11 straight seasons. He retired in 1998 at age 31 after his 50th world cup win, having not done well at the 1998 Olympics. But earlier this year, he said that he regrets retiring so young and could've kept racing for another Olympics or two. Imagine what he could've won had he continued!

So back to the hard-partying stuff... apparently his reputation was almost entirely fabricated. Of course, some media exaggeration had something to do with it, but Alberto apparently would go to sleep really early, wake up and go out for an hour at 2 a.m., and then go back to sleep. All in the name of image. Genius.

Alberto was at the top of the skiing world for a solid 12 years, which is a CRAZY long time to be the best at a sport. He's undoubtedly one of the best skiers ever.

And, seriously, Tomba la Bomba? I dare you to say it and not enjoy yourself!

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