Razzoli: Tomba la Bomba inspired me to slalom gold
GIULIANO Razzoli captured giant slalom gold in Vancouver on Saturday, becoming the first Italian to claim the title since Alberto Tomba - and he revealed La Bomba's daredevil attitude inspired him to victory.
OLD AND NEW: Three-time Olympic champion Alberto Tomba (l) celebrates with newly-crowned slalom gold medallist Giuliano Razzioli (Getty Images)
The 25-year-old's victory, Italy's first Olympic gold medal of the 2010 Winter Olympics, came courtesy of a fearless first run which handed him an advantage of 0.43 seconds.
A formidable, if less explosive second run earned Razzoli his first Olympic title and Italy's first slalom gold since Tomba's at Calgary 1988, while silver went to Croatian veteran Ivica Kostelic for the third time in Vancouver, 0.16 off the pace.
Tomba, nicknamed La Bomba, for his explosive style, was a skiing revolutionary and captured three Olympic gold medals, two world titles and 50 World Cup wins across giant slalom and slalom.
Famed for his flamboyant nature, his eccentric ways and his all-out attacking style, Bomba shot to stardom on the skiing circuit and having been born a matter of miles away from Razzoli, promptly became the latest Olympic champion's idol.
"It's fantastic for me, it was my dream for a long time," said Razzoli. "This race was very important, the most important of the year and the most important of my life.
"For my friend Alberto it's important for Italy to take a gold medal, and for alpine skiing to provide the first medal for Italy at Olympic is very important.
"In the past I made the mistake of not giving everything in the first run and I risked too much in the second run.
"This time it was easier, I knew I could get a good result. Today I attacked the first run and in the second run I did not take any risks."
Razzioli's victory is made all the more sweet by the fact that the early part of his career was plagued by injuries which saw him off the slopes for more than a year in his youth.
"When I was younger I had many physical problems," he added. "First I had knee problems, and serious back injuries, and I stopped skiing for more than a year and it was thanks to a wonderful doctor who got me back on my skis in 2001.
"And in 2003 I managed to get back, and I always managed to get back on my feet after an injury.
"I am very well aware that expectations were very high at home. There was a lot of pressure, I tried not to think about it. I tried to do my own job, and ski the best I could. I knew this medal was important for my country and my team."
Razzoli and Tomba both hail from northern Italy, a considerable distance from the Alps and so producing two Olympic skiing gold medallists is rare in those parts.
But Razzoli believes he has found the answer.
"We have to struggle more. We have to travel more to participate in the alpine team" said Razzoli. "We have to travel farther to compete in the Alps.
"Maybe this gives us a particular advantage. The food is excellent in our region, maybe this will give us an advantage. Best food in the world."