LILLEHAMMER / ’94 WINTER OLYMPICS : All Good Schemes Must Come to End for This Alberto : Skiing: Two-time champion Tomba misses gate on second run and is disqualified. Germany’s Wasmeier wins the giant slalom for his second gold medal.


In the Olympic event he had never lost, Alberto Tomba stumbled to a halt and could later locate his name in final results well below an Italian teammate named . . . Norman.

In the Olympic field that had him outclassed, American Jeremy Nobis finished ninth, out-skiing the world’s best all-around racer, Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt, and significant others.

In an Olympic result he could not comprehend, Germany’s Markus Wasmeier kept checking the scoreboard to make certain that, five days after having won the super-G gold in an upset, he truly had been the upset winner, again, in Wednesday’s giant slalom at Hafjell.


You might say things did not go as expected. Wasmeier defeated another medal stranger, Urs Kaelin of Switzerland, with a time of 2 minutes 52.46.

“Absolutely unbelievable, what happened just now,” Wasmeier said.

Though denied gold by two-hundredths of a second, Kaelin, 27, was grateful for silver. Last month, he was racing the junior circuit in a desperate attempt to continue his career.

Christian Mayer took the bronze, finally claiming the first Alpine medal for Austria, which had won 14 in the two previous Olympics.

Wasmeier, meanwhile, kept asking to be pinched. He had not won a GS since the 1985 World Championships. Now, two gold medals in a week.

The 30-year-old painter who started these Olympics by finishing 36th in the downhill, was sure he could not win the GS. He awoke Wednesday, listless. After inspecting the course, he felt worse, sure that it did not suit his style.

“I thought I would make a good run, give it my best,” he said.

Wasmeier, skiing 14th, finished what he thought had been an ordinary first run, skidded into the finish, casually glanced at the timing board and appeared confused.


The board read (2). That was right behind Mayer. Wasmeier paused, looked around, then poked his chest with his forefinger.

“Me?” he mouthed.

Wasmeier knew that couldn’t last. And it didn’t. He was third before the afternoon run and would race before the two in front of him, Mayer and Kaelin.

This time, when Wasmeier crossed the finish, he was in first, all but assuring himself the bronze.

“It already had been a sensation for me, being in third place,” Wasmeier said. “If two guys would have beaten me, I would have been real happy with the bronze medal.”

Kaelin skied next, but was just short of Wasmeier.

Mayer had held an 0.37 of a second lead over Wasmeier after the morning run, and could have won the gold even if he was a tiny bit slower than Wasmeier’s second time of 1:23.75.

But Mayer was nearly half a second slower than Wasmeier in the afternoon, and slipped to third.



Tomba came, Tomba moved to private cottage, Tomba complained of conditions--”We risk frostbite.”

Tomba lost.

Italy’s best performer Wednesday was Norman Bergamelli, who recorded the second-fastest second run and finished sixth.

Tomba, the two-time defending gold medalist in GS, was 13th after the first run, 1.19 seconds off the lead.

Desperate to make up time in the afternoon, Tomba missed the third-last gate and was disqualified.

Although Tomba ranks only 10th in GS standings this season, the many and loyal followers of the fast-lane Italian playboy never count him out.

After having won the GS at the 1992 Albertville Games, Tomba made up 1.30 seconds on Norway’s Finn-Christian Jagge in the second run of slalom and missed the gold by 0.28.


This time, no drama.

Tomba’s trouble was only one of several imponderables:

Aamodt, the defending GS world champion, stood in 18th position after the first run and finished 12th. Luxembourg’s Marc Girardelli, the World Cup overall champion, crashed in the morning and could only contemplate his Olympic jinx.

And what of Nobis? America’s run of Olympic good fortune seemed doomed with the men’s GS, the ski team’s worst event. In 13 GS starts this year, Nobis had been the only skier able to complete two runs, finishing 28th.

Yet, there he stood in sixth after his first run, in medal contention. How would a 23-year-old plagued with self-doubt handle the pressure?

Determined not to crash, Nobis at no point threatened the lead as the second run’s ninth skier. But not only did he finish, he finished ninth.

Afterward, he exhaled.

“I was kind of carrying the world on my shoulders and I needed to just get rid of it.”