At the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, Simon Ammann became only the second jumper in history (after Finland's Matti Nykaenen in 1988) to win two individual gold medals at a single Games (for the individual normal and large hill). Not only that, he'd never even won a world-championship medal or World Cup event before. Ammann started at age 11 on a 30-m hill in Wildhaus, which is close to his hometown of Unterwasser (literally, underwater), where he grew up on a farm.
But perhaps the sudden onset of fame got to Ammann, now 28, as his appearances on the likes of David Letterman's Late Show went hand in hand with a slump on the slopes; he went almost five years without winning a World Cup event after Salt Lake and didn't come close to adding to his Olympic-medal haul at the 2006 Torino Games. Yet by winning gold on the large hill and silver on the normal at the 2007 World Championships and currently residing atop the World Cup standings Ammann just might be timing his run (or should that be jump?) to perfection. "I'm looking forward to flying far on the Olympic hills," says Ammann.
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