Not long after Tommy Moe became the second American man to win an Olympic downhill 10 years later, his career was undone by injuries. And like Johnson, who never fully recovered his glory, Moe has yet to rediscover the form that carried him to the gold and a silver in the Super G.
In 1995, Tommy Moe returned to the course in Kvitfiel, Norway, on which he'd won the gold a bit more than a year earlier. On a stretch of the course the Norwegians had taken to calling the "Tommy Moe Channel," he hooked an edge and crashed, badly tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament. Although he was back on skis within a year, it wasn't until late in the 1996-97 season that he began to rediscover his feel for the snow. Then, true to American Alpinist form, he sustained another injury, this time to his hand. He missed seven weeks, including the world championships. "I came back to Jackson," he says, "and I was like 'What's going on?'
Still, much as Johnson did in 1988, Tommy Moe refuses to count himself out of the Olympic equation four years down the road. And while Johnson failed to make the '88 team, Moe is a virtual lock for this year's Alpine squad. "I'd be the first skier ever to win back-to-back Olympic downhills," he says hopefully. "So the door is wide open. I just have to get out there and do it." Of course, that's precisely what he hasn't done thus far: His best finish heading into 1998 was a 15th place in a Super G held at Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Oddly enough, Moe shares more than skiing with Johnson. Like his predecessor, he was something less than an angel as a kid. A young Bill Johnson boosted a car and narrowly averted jail and was bounced from the U.S. ski team for disciplinary reasons. A young Tommy Moe was bounced from the U.S. ski team for drinking and smoking pot. A short stint with his father, a construction worker in Alaska, convinced Moe that concentrating on skiing would be in his own best self interest.
Despite all his similarities to Johnson, perhaps past isn't prelude and Moe is indeed the man to re-write Olympic history. "From the day I met him, I knew it was only a matter of time before he got all his ducks in a row and started sparking the world in whatever discipline he chose," says U.S. skier Picabo Street, herself a two-time World Cup downhill champion. "I wasn't surprised in any way, shape or form with his results at Lillehammer. I think even at this late date, it would be unwise to dismiss Tommy." He can only hope.