The early benchmark in the men’s downhill was set by a familiar name – Luxembourg’s Marc Girardelli, who crossed the line in 1 min 46.09 secs. Home favourite Kjetil André Aamodt, a super-G gold medallist in Albertville, was cheered on enthusiastically as he crossed the line a healthy 0.3 secs quicker than Girardelli to move to the top of the leaderboard.
Next out of the gate was Tommy Moe of the USA. Moe had never won a World Cup race, but he had an excellent pedigree. Despite being only 23 years old at the Lillehammer Games, he was a veteran on the slopes having learned to ski from an early age, and already had five World Cup seasons under his belt. And although he represented USA, his Norwegian ancestry earned him warm support from the locals who lined the downhill course.
As he powered down the course, Moe managed to stay in touch with Aamodt’s pace and as he approached the line it was impossible to gauge whether he had done enough to edge ahead of the leader. The clock stopped at 1 min 45.75 secs – 0.04 secs ahead of the Norwegian, and enough to propel the unheralded Moe into the lead. Nobody could get near his time and he was rewarded with a gold medal. With an additional silver in the super-G, he returned home a hero, and, full of confidence, won his opening World Cup race a month later. It was to prove the first, and also last, World Cup victory of his career, but he continued to perform well until a serious injury sustained in 1995 slowed his progress. He retired three years later, and now works in hospitality in the winter sport industry.