1992 Winter Olympics: Viva La Bomba!

Tomba makes history with a repeat gold medal, but upstarts and veterans snap at his tails

The air was frigid, sun splashed, and electric with suspense. Above the kaleidoscopic crowd waved the banner of the "Tombamania Club of Pisa" with its crudely drawn Leaning Tower and its message: GO FOR IT, ALBERTO! Horns honked. Cowbells clanged. In the opening minutes of the giant slalom ski race, a Swiss racer grabbed first place. But the pilgrims from Bologna held high their sign: BIG ALBERTO, GIVE US A MEDAL. Seconds later, a Norwegian flashed to the top of the scoreboard. Balloons soared. Agitated claques from San Lazzaro, Sestriere and Vidiciatico shook their posters: WHEN YOU'RE ALBERTO, YOU'RE EVERYTHING. Now,...