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1984 Olympic downhill champion Bill Johnson dies

Europe
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Munich (dpa) - Bill Johnson, the 1984 Olympic downhill champion, has died after a long illness, the United States ski team said on Friday. He was 55.

The team said in a statement Johnson died Thursday in an assisted living facility in Gresham, Oregon.

Johnson became the first American to win the blue-riband downhill ski race at the Olympics, 1984 in Sarajevo. He also claimed his three World Cup race wins that year as he "ushered in a new era for American ski racing," the statement said.

"His accomplishments motivated an entire generation of American ski racers, with the team‘s current success rooted in the achievements of that 1984 Olympic Team," the team said in reference to the five American 1984 medals which included another gold from Phil Mahre.

Johnson retired from skiing in the late 1980s. An attempted comeback for the 2002 Winter Games ended when he suffered life-threatening head injuries in a training crash in 2001 and was in an induced coma for three weeks.

Further health setbacks followed and he lived in the nursing home since suffering one of several strokes in 2010.

"His passing closed the final chapter in a tumultuous lifetime that saw him rise to the highest level in his sport," the ski team said.

Johnson‘s mother, DB Johnson-Cooper, was quoted by The Oregonian paper as saying: "He suffered the worst kind of pain for the past three weeks."

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