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Tommy Moe will always be Alaska’s Golden Boy, the skier from the top of the world who became king of the world during one perfect week in Norway.
He sent Alaska into a happy frenzy -- and the rest of the world into a state of shock -- by winning the downhill championship at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Four days later, he celebrated his 24th birthday by claiming the silver medal in the super-G, becoming the first American skier to win two medals at the same Olympics.
In Alaska and beyond, Moe-mania ensued. Palmer (where he grew up) and Girdwood (where he attended a ski academy and bought a home) both claimed him as a hometown hero. Sports Illustrated made him a cover boy. Letterman and Leno invited him on their shows. And ski analysts around the globe scrambled to explain how a relatively unknown Alaskan rocked the sport by winning ski racing’s most glamorous title.
The Olympic gold medal earned Moe a long-term gig as the ski ambassador at Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Resort, where for $1,200, you and four friends can spend the day skiing with one of America’s most famous racers. Heli-skiing, fly fishing and river rafting bring him back to Alaska in the summer.
In the weeks after Lillehammer, Moe proved that his Olympic greatness was no fluke by winning a World Cup super-G in Canada. Injuries hampered him in subsequent seasons, and he retired following the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, where he finished eighth in the super-G and 12th in the downhill. He spent 12 seasons racing for the U.S. Ski Team, but he’ll be forever remembered for the 1 minute and 45.75 seconds he spent blazing down a mountain one February day in Norway.
– Beth Bragg
photo courtesy of The Dallas Morning News
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