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Aamodt defies the doctors to take super-G title

In the months before these Games, many people had tipped the Norwegian skier Kjetil André Aamodt to shine. The versatile youngster had proven his credential at the highest level in the slalom, downhill and super-G and he was regarded as a real prospect for a medal in at least one event.

However, just three months before the Olympics, he was taken seriously ill and rushed to hospital. Doctors said he would not be able to return to competition for the next six months, ruling him out of the rest of the skiing season, including the Albertville Games.

Aamodt defied the prognosis and the medical recommendations and returned to training ahead of schedule, convincing the Norwegian selectors that he was fit to compete at the Games. However, his illness and time on the sidelines surely now meant he could no longer take on the world's best.

Aamodt began his programme with the downhill. Unsurprisingly, he finished well down the order in 26th place. However, it was enough to convince him that he was competition-ready, and the Norwegian entered the super-G with renewed confidence.

He skied second, beating the time of the previous competitor Marco Hangl and crossing the line in 1minute 13.04 seconds. Now he just had to watch and wait. Luxembourg’s Marc Girardelli, who was still looking for his first Olympic medal, skied directly after him and finished 0.73 seconds slower. It was now clear that Aamodt's time was a good one, and a succession of other skiers tried, and failed, to beat it. Franz Heiner fell, World Cup leader Paul Accola placed only tenth, while Jan Einar Thorsen moved into third with a time 0.06 seconds behind Girardelli.

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But nobody could get close to Aamodt. A few months after lying in hospital, the young Norwegian had his hands on the first gold medal of his Olympic career. It was to be the first of many as he returned to the podium at the 1994, 2002 and 2006 Winter Games.

Girardelli, meanwhile, took silver. A couple of days later, the two men were back on the podium, this time in the giant slalom, as Girardelli took another silver while Aamodt added a bronze to his haul.
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