clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

American Racing Legend Bill Johnson Pulls His Own Life Support

Bill Johnson, the first American to win an Olympic gold in the Downhill who pissed off the Europeans in epic fashion when he claimed he'd win days before the race, has decided to take himself off the life support that he's been depending on since a series of strokes left him immobilized two years ago. Johnson was first noticed when he won the opportunity to pre-run the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, and US ski coaches took the fearless young skier, who grew up in a poor family, onto the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics, where he would be the first American to win the downhill, beating Switzerland's Peter Muller by 0.27 seconds - practically a mile. Unfortunately, Johnson's Olympic success was followed by years of tragedy in which he fought with coaches, failed to make the 1988 Olympic team, and lost a child in a drowning incident.

At 40 years old, broke and divorced, Johnson threw himself at a comeback to ski racing in order to win back his wife and climb out of poverty. But before he could race, he fell during training in Montana and suffered a traumatic brain injury that would eventually leave him wheelchair bound and living off of Medicaid in an Oregon nursing home at the young age of 51. More recently, Johnson has decided to turn off his life support and see what life has in store next. We wish him the best.

· BJ Elects To Leave Hospital, Take Himself Off Life Support [Ski Racing]
· "Ski To Die" - The Bill Johnson Story [Powder Magazine]