Bill Johnson's mother went to work today, despite her...


PORTLAND, Ore. -- Bill Johnson's mother went to work today, despite her son's historic gold-medal victory in the men's downhill at the Winter Olympics, since her boss told her, 'How can we have a party without you?'

'I just love it,' D.B. Johnson said joyously from her home in Troutdale, Ore., a suburb east of Portland. 'I'm just so proud of him I could just burst.


'I gave my boss an early wake-up call and asked her, 'Do I have to come to work today?' And she told me, 'How can we have a party without you?''

Mrs. Johnson is a contract administrator at Tektronix, a Beaverton electronics firm.

Asked if she had expected her son to win all along, Mrs. Johnson said, 'Of course! Wouldn't you have if it was your own?'

She said her son, who gave the United States men their first ever gold medal in an Olympic Alpine event, was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Brightwood, Ore., on the highway between Portland and Mount Hood.

He attended Sandy High School along with a 'skiing family' that includes an older brother and two older sisters, Mrs. Johnson said.


'He learned to ski on Bogus Basin in Boise,' she said. 'We all put skis on at the same time. We bought a $300 season pass.'

'When he was 7 -- that's when he put his skis on -- he just took to it like he was born on skis. He's what one would call a born athlete. He's just unbelievable,' exclaimed Mrs. Johnson, whose ex-husband lives in Van Nuys, Calif.

'He's always been an over-achiever, even academically. He was accelerated in a couple of grades and he graduated very, very young -- he was barely 16,' the proud mother said. 'At that point in his life, rather than going on to college, he decided to attend the ski academy at Mission Ridge, Washington.'

Asked if she would have preferred to be in Sarajevo to watch her son win the gold medal, she replied, 'Of course I would have. We just didn't have it. We moved here, made a couple good investments, and unfortuately that took everything I have.'

'I called Sarajevo at 20 minutes after 3 because I couldn't sleep and I was afraid they were going to cancel it again,' she said.

After the race, 'Bill called when they got back into their living quarters, and he said it's the most fun he's ever had,' she recalled.


Johnson, 23, who has done most of his skiing on Mount Hood, plans to return to Oregon after the Canadian World Cup March 6-7, Mrs. Johnson said, adding that reporters were keeping the phone ringing as she tried to leave for work.

'Isn't it fun?' she said. 'It's fun for all of us.'

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