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Bill Johnson (really)

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm going to be the first to take up the gauntlet of AC (despite the fact I wanted to flout my Mensa-level intellect) and reiterate the question I left on the now closed thread.

Raubin was kind enough to provide a link to the several sites that provide info on Bill Johnson. On the USSA site, there is an email address ( getwellbill@ussa.org ) for folks to send their regards. From what got posted regarding the recent trauma of Mr. Johnson (e.g., one of children drowned, recent divorce thereafter), I have to appreciate his desire to still do something that mattered to him. If I were him, I don't think I'd WANT to wake up. I'd gladly take hibernation or the other. (This goes back to my Dale Earnhardt comment on the aforementioned thread: a 'good death' might be to exit in a dramatic way doing what one loves to do.) In many cases, it seems that if one is to reach the highest of highs, one has to delve into the depths of the lowest of lows.

I guess y'all would presume one is worth the other? Of course, for one day (not necessarily Thursday!), I'd love to experience what it is like to ski like he has, but I'm not sure about the price, that is, if the two are linked. Thoughts?


Dante non ha mai immaginato questo cercio dell'inferno!

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[This message has been edited by lisakaz (edited March 27, 2001).]</FONT>
post #2 of 23
"If one is to reach the highest of highs, one must delve into the lowest of lows." It is not necessarily so, BUT . . . See the movie "Shadowlands", which I understand to be a semi-fictional account of the relationship of C. S. Lewis to the woman he eventually married. Anthony Hopkins plays Lewis, the well known Christian writer and a Catholic, and Debra Winger plays the Jewish divorcee who converted to Catholicism and with whom C. S. Lewis fell in love. They marry after Lewis learns that his beloved is dying of cancer. In one scene, Lewis says that he fears the suffering - that is, loosing his loved one. She replies that the joy is a part of the suffering, and the suffering is part of the joy: The more you care about something, the more you suffer when you lose it - they are thus inseparable. However, I'm not at all convinced that "lows" are all that necessary to define "highs", if you define lows as extreme personal pain. Skiing at my level, of course, is as low as I care to go - but it's pretty low! Any gain I make is, in comparison,a definite high. However, even wihtout the lows, the magic of skiing - speeding, slowing, turning, jumping, always in control - is like flying, and a thrill and a high in any circumstances. Like sex, it needs no pain to be pleasurable [at least for many of us, I'm sure]. I guess my emotional and mental make up just aren't suited to the "going out in a blaze of glory at a young age" thing. If I am plucked from this earth in a moment of exhilaration slithering through a gnarly, twisting, bumpy tree run or narrow trail, it is to be desired only if I am 154 years old and termnially ill with cancer. Otherwise, I prefer to enjoy my skiing while I can and then continue to live and watch my children and [if I should be that lucky] my grandchildren grow. That's just my own point of view, not right or wrong, and I accept that many others will differ.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by oboe (edited March 25, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by oboe (edited March 25, 2001).]</FONT>
post #3 of 23
nevermind<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Grizz (edited March 25, 2001).]</FONT>
post #4 of 23
It seems to me that to a lot of athletes it's next to the worst thing you can do not to go as far athletically as you can - so it'd be worth it for the rewards for Bill Johnson.

Since he had been (and is) a world-class racer, presumably the risk was worth it for him before the accident; let's hope he comes out it OK. What I meant to say is that since he had tasted the rewards he was going for before, presumably the rewards were that great... so great as to be worth the risk of this type of accident.

This topic does feel slightly ghoulish, since we don't know how he's doing yet...
post #5 of 23
You know, I don't want this to sound "ghoulish" and I certainly don't mean to come off as non-caring but I'd like to expound a little on the thought that lisakaz touched on in the other thread when bringing up the comparison to Dale Earnhardt.

As I get older and watch my Dad go through the "trials" of old age which include a form of dementia, I find myself wishing I would have pushed it more when I was young and also finding myself pushing it more now than some of my friends and family think is wise. Now some might say that I'm going through some type of midlife crisis but I don't think so and, luckily, neither does my wife.

Getting back on subject, I wish the best for Bill Johnson but, if it doesn't go that way, people like Bill and Dale Earnhardt didn't mess around and one day look back and wish they would have done more during their lives. If he doesn't pull through, both he and Dale were doing something they loved to do in their last minutes, and if I go like that, as they say, don't weep for me, I'll be one happy guy. Just my thoughts for whatever they're worth.
post #6 of 23
I don't have much more to say per se on Bill Johnson other then it could happen to anyone that ski's really. When something like that happens to anyone I feel for them and their families and friends, whether they had helmets or not, whether they were a-holes, whether it was a nobody so to speak, it still sucks.

I race and I know the risks. It wouldn't take much to blow a gate and wind up in the fence. Just because its a fence doesn't mean I am not going to get hurt. It wouldn't take a coma to put me out of skiing, but I am doing what I love to do. Just like I know the risks of skiing out of bounds and back country. Hell, I am more likely to die doing that then I would racing.
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Dear all,

I wasn't trying to be ghoulish or to predict the outcome of events surrounding Bill Johnson. I wasn't even necessarily referring only to skiing, either, but as to whether there is a certain karmic(?) balance to those who try to do something special have to overcome a tremendous amount of adversity to get there, hence the greatest accomplishment isn't merely the achievement per se but the vindication that comes from the "rebounding conquest" (to put a slight twist on that term).

As in Dale Earnhardt: what made his '98 Daytona 500 win special was how long he had to wait to get it. (Lots of other examples could be used here -- like Phil Mahre winning a medal after his ankle surgery.)

There's also much more to it in the particular circumstances of Johnson, as mentioned in my first post. You could wonder if anyone who accomplishes something great (like winning a gold medal) might pay for it somehow (injury, divorce, etc.), be it directly related (he let other parts of his life slide) or indirectly (no one is allowed in this world too much perfection/greatness). Do you buy any of that? Why or why not?

Writing a big project makes me wrestle with big philosophical questions. I'm trying to test my own compass, figure out what relevance these things have in my own life.


Dante non ha mai immaginato questo cercio dell'inferno!

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[This message has been edited by lisakaz (edited March 27, 2001).]</FONT>
post #8 of 23
I think that to be "great" or achieve greatly there are many sacrifices. It may not even be known that those sacrifices are taking place until you look back. The old adage "you don't know what your missing if you've never had it" applies in some cases I am sure.

The key word I would think in this is Adversity.To what degree am I willing to sacrifice to overcome adversity. For some, that degree isn't even thought about it's just overcome, thats what I want that's what I'm supposed to do. For other's such as me there's that voice that says this isn't "that" important is it?" Am I really willing to give up something to be someone or get somewhere that I dream about. I guess for some that drive will push them to and over the edge.

I see that drive in many people.

Phil and Steve Maher
Bill Johnson
Shane Mconkey
Johnny Mosley
Mohummad Ali
and so on and so on

All those people have overcome certain adversities and all with a price.
but would they do it any differently if they had it to do over? Well maybe Ali.... that rope-a-dope killed him.

Oh well here I go again

You cant expect to do extreme skiing and come out with make-up on.
post #9 of 23
Thanks, Bob! Good to 'see' you too!

~Michelle H.
post #10 of 23
It's very sad about Bill Johnson. Certainly as a competitive downhiller he deserves a lot of respect. And he stepped up and did it when it really counted, in the Olympics.
The title of the book "Right on the Edge of Crazy", about the US downhill team in the early 90's, pretty well sums up downhill.

Yesterday I was sick and couldn't ski. On tv I happened to catch the Ford Downhill Series final from Squaw Valley. Now here were some 'old' guys still at it. Tucking down KT 22 (?) going from 0 to 75mph in maybe 7 seconds? I believe many here have skied that trail. What's it like? Would you tuck it?
Impressive to learn someone like the Swiss Daniel Mahrer has had 75 top ten finishes on the world cup. Very few ski racers are in that category yet he never won 'the big one'.

Then there was Canadian Brian Stemmle. He gets my vote for making one of the most courageous comebacks ever. There's someone who went over the edge and actually came back. In 1989 at the downhill in Kitzbuel Stemmle had a horrific crash. He was going through a narrow section of the course, got off line and was trying to get back when he ran out of room. His left leg caught in the fencing on the side of the course at 60?mph. The forces broke (not fractured) his pelvis and he suffered massive internal injuries. Were it not for helicopters and modern medicine he'd be dead. In intensive care he was given a 50% chance of survival due to the internal injuries and infection. He was 'lucky' not to have spinal damage.
(This was all shown as part of a series called (?) "Worst sporting accidents" on Discovery channel or The Learning Channel that I saw late one night while tuning skis)

So after all that you'd certainly understand if he'd said "That's enough for me, I think I'll just play golf". Within 2 years he was back and I believe won at the Pan American games.
In the '98 Olympics he came close to the big one. This was the course were Maier had his spectacular fall and on that same turn I think 11 racers blew it. Stemmle started fairly late when it looked like it was pretty much a wrap for the leader Jean-Luc Cretier (also at Squaw in the Ford series). But here comes Stemmle who not only makes that turn but posts the fastest top split. Then down some more with a good run and still the fastest to the 2nd split. Shortly after his ski gets caught in a rut and he goes way out of line and there go his chances of winning anything. Ah, such is ski racing, so close...

I'd certainly say that Stemmle overcame Adversity. There he was again yesterday 'Right on the edge of crazy' flying down KT 22 at 75 miles per hour. Some people will never give up. Thank god.

post #11 of 23
Good post TOG,

Now I am sure he has had to sacrifice somethings in his life to be who he is. I wonder how hard it was for him to do it. Or if it was something he never thinks about.
post #12 of 23
One of my heros has always been Marc Giradelli - he has won more Overall World Cups than any other man. And he won consistantly in SL, GS, SG & DH - one of the most well rounded racers ever. (Incidentally - you know why Tomba didn't do the speed events? His Momma didn't want him to. Really!).

Anyway, Giradelli had a wreck on a DH course that was so brutal it nearly "tore him in half" according to press reports, fortunately his spine was ok and they put him back together. Well a year later he returned to the "Alpine Circus" and won another Overall World Cup globe - this time apparently he only had about 30% feeling in his left leg. Can you imagine winning at that level with a mostly numb leg? The guy was an animal!
post #13 of 23
Only an Italian could get away with that "My mother won't let me ski downhill" line!
Could you imagine one of the Austrians using that line? lol They'd probably strap him into a bobsled and say "You vill learn! Ya!"
But then as they say "Austrians are born with downhill in their blood". So I guess mamma would be shoving him out onto the course!

Giradelli certainly is impressive. I didn't know the story of his crash. I believe either Aomodt or Kjus skis with an arm that has little feeling in it due to a ripped muscle in a crash.

post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Haven't seen an item with today's dateline yet but Bill Johnson continues to show slight signs of improvement (currently "agitation"), causing all familiar with his case to maintain cautious optimism for him to emerge from his coma.

The thing that really got me, though, was the description of the threat to his life initially posed by what happened as a result of the fall (it involves his tongue). My mantra would be "wake me up when it's over." Eek! I would be grateful to be comatose, in his case; doesn't that state allow for a certain amount of healing, meaning in his case it has a purpose? Is there a dr. in the house?


Dante non ha mai immaginato questo cercio dell'inferno!
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 

Actually, neither of the two. How about this: I am trying to find balance (or is that reason?) in the universe. Does the gold medal and fame on one side of the ledger get counterweighed by the traumas he's already endured and currently undergoes? (If not, maybe Johnson has another day in the sun still to come!) Or, is the determination and accomplishment in one area offset by negligence or failure in others? On the latter question, some folks here seem to think any world class athlete makes some kind of sacrifices that would affirm this.

Would this relate to an odd definition of "natural law"? Maybe I just cannot help being a metaphysician; it's a hobby. Perhaps I should have studied theology...? Might be a better thesis to write at this point. (Wish I could say: "No worries!") I guess I'm trying to be hopeful that the pain of completing my degree will yield some reward and make the various sacrifices of recent years worthwhile (yeah, sure...where's the cynical smiley guy expression!).


Dante non ha mai immaginato questo cercio dell'inferno!

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[This message has been edited by lisakaz (edited March 27, 2001).]</FONT>
post #16 of 23
Major article on Bill Johnson today in the NY Times.
Go to www.nytimes.com
You have to register but read it today otherwise you have to pay to get past articles.

post #17 of 23
I am fully aware it is like offering Big Bear as opposed to Alta, but for those of you as adverse to registering & or paying as me. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ccovfri.htm

fluffy basics on the man & his current condition

baile para nieve
post #18 of 23
Thanks ti,

Good article.

Little too much psudeo-physcology for me gonzo. Thank god for inadequacies, other wise we would have perished as a species along time ago. Just a thought from another under achiever.
post #19 of 23
Thanks Tog for leading us to that wonderful but also sad article about Bill Johnson.

I hope he gets through this crises OK. I think howver,his racing days are over. I just hope he can recover so he one day will be able to ski with his sons.
post #20 of 23
I wanted to raise one of the old posts about Johnson and his accident rather start a new one.

Tonight on the evening news Johnson was shown running through Portland with the Olympic Torch. There was a little update on his condition. After a three month coma he began to regain consciousness and has been slowly recovering. He seems to be walking with bit of a shuffle and speach is slurred. The report also noted that a side affect of his injury is memory loss and he does not remember winning the Olympic Gold.

It was also reported that he started skiing again in late November at Timberline. Skiing seems to be helping in his recovery.
post #21 of 23
I have heard (perhaps only rumor) that Johnson actually intends to compete in DH this year.

Anyway, I'd like to hear more from Lisakaz on her Mensa-level intellect. So LK, are the Mensa meetings really droll affairs that indicate just how weird most more intelligent folks are? I almost joined a Northern NJ chapter until I heard from friends that it was geek heaven - in the WORST way.

post #22 of 23
I like to make a couple of comments. someone wrote about his father demitia and pushing it later in his life I think the reason Johnson came back is he thought he didn't give it his all in his prime.

the other, as a father of a couple of ski racers and an alpine official I have heard a lot a of discussuion on the side of mountains as kids grow up "I hope they dont become downhillers " It can be very nerve racking to watch your kid participate in a fis or noram downhill, particularly if they have a feel for speed and go for it. we had 5 kids there last year during the crash and we have I think 7 there this week. Our club I mean.
you get your kids involved and hope they are safe. Yes it could happen just skiing, but as far as I am concerned there is only 2 extreme winter sports , extreme big mountain comp and downhill racing. and the risks go up with both.

By the way my kids came back from summer training 2 years ago and they did not think johnson old school was going to work , they did not think he looked good at all. not mean spirited just their criticism.
post #23 of 23
I didn't want to enter the fray then, mainly because I did not see it then, I am doing it now.
Todd (then Gravity):
(Incidentally - you know why Tomba didn't do the speed events? His Momma didn't want him to. Really!).
Yes, the press reported that with great loudness.
There was a big uproar then, everyone saying one thing and the exact opposite.
His family entered also in a big flame war with one of the most
known trainers of the time( a guy by the name of Cotelli, if the name means something for you all,
trainer of the mid '70 Thoeni/Gros et al "valanga azzurra") because he kept saying that
a professional like him (Tomba) ought to participate into the speed events,
at least the SuperG events, if he were to win the world cup.
And was saying that loudly.
I personally, at the time, thought less of the guy because he did not choose to compete into the
SuperG, but he was an adult, he choose not to compete and as a result he's lost
who knows how many world cups, we'll never know, since history is not written
with "ifs" and "but"... Was it fear? Was it really his mother's "will"?
Who truly knows? Who really cares?
Now that I am older (but not wiser), I see that a person must do what he must do, and live with the consequencies.
Still he was great at technical events, and that was enough for him, enabling him to win
a world cup.
I Agree, my model was Girardelli, iron balls he had, to add something to Lisakaz
benefit, he had a girlfriend, and became a father, only to see them leaving him...
Maybe the pressure of the "white Circus" was too much for the mother and the boy.
I don't know, I'll necer know.
But remember one thing, his father was his coach, and he dragged him away from the austrian
federation and set up a Louxemburg ski federation just for him.
So his father looks at least bossy to me, pushing the young and then not so young Marc toward greatness...
maybe at the cost of a family (and I stress maybe)!

In this light Tog, I invite you not to generalize.
"Only an Italian could get away with that "My mother won't let me ski downhill" line!
offends me, smiley notwithstanding.
Re above, what should I say
"Only an Austrian would sacrifice his son life for honours?"
Remember that there are so many "only an american..."
things that you do not appreciate being said about Americans...
There are so many Italians willing to compete into DH events, maybe they're not successfull
but they do overcome their fears exactly like Americans, Germans, Britons, French
(just to name few nations) do...
Or are you implying that Mayr (sp?) (Michael "Muck"), Compagnoni, Ghedina and Kostner are not Italians?
Whatabout Leonardo David? He died after 10 years of coma (head trauma sustained during a DH world cup
event) He was young and full off life, went off to sleep and never ever woke up again!

As Fox recently said:
I guess there is a fine line between what we in N. Ireland find funny, and what we find sick,
and I could tell you stories from personal experience that would make you understand
why I don't find some things amusing.

The same applies to every nation of this universe.

End of rant
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