Razzoli emulates mighty Tomba

By Alan Baldwin

WHISTLER (Reuters) - Giuliano Razzoli followed Alberto Tomba's advice to win the men's slalom on Saturday and hand Italy their first gold medal of the Olympics in the last race of the Alpine ski program.

Tomba, joining the ecstatic winner in the finish area after the Italian had won by 0.16 seconds, had texted Razzoli before both legs.

"I told him, have your eyes open and be fast and ferocious. He handled it the way he had to," the excited showman told reporters.

Croatia's Ivica Kostelic, whose boisterous fans were silenced by Razzoli's stunning success, collected his second silver of the Games after moving up from fourth place after the first run.

Sweden's Andre Myhrer took the bronze, 0.44 slower than the winner.

Razzoli, who lives around an hour's drive from Tomba's Bologna home, was overjoyed. He lay in the snow with his skis in the air before twirling his poles around and cavorting with the Italian flag on his shoulders.

The winner of a World Cup slalom in Zagreb last month, he said he had always known he could take the gold -- and had even written his name on a piece of paper when asked by a reporter for his prediction before setting off for Canada.

"It's a dream because I was feeling this medal for a long time," he said.

AUSTRIAN FAILURE

Kostelic, who took a silver in super combined to add to the combined silver he won in Turin four years ago, had no complaints after a career plagued by injury.

"I realistically had two chances of a medal and I took them both," he said.

Defending champion Benjamin Raich slumped from third after the first run to finish fourth for Austria who failed to win a single men's Alpine medal for the first time since 1936.

"It's really frustrating because we had a really strong team and in almost all events we were fourth."

The French men, who had won Alpine gold at the last three Games, also left completely empty-handed for the first time since Lillehammer in 1994.

American Bode Miller failed in his bid for a record fourth medal when he straddled a gate in the first run that saw 43 non-finishers.

At the tail end of the field, Ghana's first Winter Olympian Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong completed both runs to end up 47th of 48 finishers.

"I'm not last on the list so that's fantastic," he said. "That was one of my main aims, not to be totally crap at skiing."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)