Bill Johnson, the cocksure West Coast skier who won America’s first Olympic gold medal in the downhill, died late Thursday at an assisted-living center in Oregon. A troubled teen who opted for ski school over a juvenile-detention term, Johnson was a brash figure who surprised Europe’s elite ski racers—but not himself, after he brazenly predicted his Olympic victory—to win the gold medal at the Winter Games in Sarajevo in 1984. Johnson suffered a traumatic brain injury in an attempted comeback before the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City and spent years recovering his memory. He reportedly sustained a series of strokes in recent years.
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