I adore to be adored,” the Olympic slalom skier once said. OK, so maybe the man they call La Bomba (“the bomb”) won’t win any gold medals in modesty. But the party-loving, girl-crazy 25-year-old with the aquiline profile and the hard-rock thighs of a Roman statue remains Italy’s favorite living monument.
After winning two golds at Calgary in 1988, he drank a little too much Lambrusco, ate a little too much tortellini and found himself with a pasta belly. A trainer prescribed a diet heavy on steak and protein drinks; vanity did the rest. Tomba’s 190-lb. physique (down from 206) not only worked better on the slopes but also looked better on the beach. His mind-set changed too: “I think more about skiing than having fun now.” The strategy paid off; he brought home two more medals from the Winter Games in Albertville (or “Alberto-ville,” as he rechristenedit).
When not on the slopes or promoting the carabinieri (the national police force, of which he’s a vice-brigadiere) or racking up some million dollars a year in endorsements, Tomba dreams of a Hollywood career. The son of a successful Bolognese dress merchant is a bit slipperier in the girlfriend department, though there is Martina Colombari, the reigning Miss Italy. His idea of beauty is simple: “It’s beautiful to be famous,” he has said. “I have never understood those champions who proclaim themselves nauseated by the crowd, upset by the invasion of fans. Why should I be afraid of those who wish me well?”