Warner hits the slopes

Studio buys rights to gold medalist ski racer's story

A correction was made to this article on June 5, 2006.

Warner Bros. Pictures and scribe Jamie Linden have pacted to tell the saga of downhill ski racer Bill Johnson, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist who lost his memory in a devastating crash during a comeback bid.

Studio has bought rights from Johnson and his family, as well as the film rights to Jennifer Woodlief’s book “Ski to Die,” published last fall.

Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk is producing, while Linden will pen the script.

The untitled Johnson project reteams Iwaynk and Linden, who are involved with McG’s “We Are Marshall” for Warners.

Though “Ski to Die” was published last fall by Emmis Books, the rights package gained momentum through an HBO “Real Sports” segment on the skier in February.

Johnson, who took on the motto “ski to die,” rose to celebrity status after flying down the slopes of Sarajevo during the 1984 Winter Olympics and becoming the first American to win gold in downhill. Later he won two World Cup races. He didn’t win another big race and found himself bitter and divorced at age 40, when he attempted his comeback.

“Bill went from magazine covers to frustration over his inability to match his greatest feat,” Linden said.

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