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Puerto Rico-born Jonny Moseley won a gold medal for the U.S. Olympic ski team during the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.
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Born on August 27, 1975, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jonny Moseley developed into a skiing prodigy after moving to Northern California. He became a celebrity on the heels of his gold medal-winning performance in the moguls competition at the 1998 Winter Olympics, and performed his famed "Dinner Roll" move during the 2002 Winter Games. Moseley has since remained in the spotlight as a television host.
"To train for the Olympics, you have to want it so bad. You put everything on hold. I don't even answer the phone. Ever."
Jonathan William Moseley was born on August 27, 1975, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The third son of Tom, a developer and contractor, and Barbara, a real estate broker, Moseley moved with his family to the San Francisco suburb of Tiburon in 1978.
Moseley enjoyed his first taste of the slopes as a 3-year-old at Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe, California, and at age 9 he joined the Squaw Valley freestyle ski team. The budding star won the Freestyle Junior Nationals in 1990 and 1991, and he was selected to the U.S. Ski Team after graduating from the Branson School in 1993.
Moseley briefly enrolled at the University of California, Davis, after failing to make the U.S. Olympic team for the 1994 Winter Games, but dropped out to concentrate on intensive training.
He won the first two events of the 1997-98 World Cup season to secure a spot on the U.S. Olympic ski team, making him the first Puerto Rico-born athlete to earn that distinction. Moseley then became the star of the American contingent at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, after performing his midair "360-Degree Mute Grab" to win the gold medal in the mogul freestyle competition.
The Olympic victory thrust Moseley into the spotlight, and his good looks and easygoing charm helped make him a celebrity. He was awarded the key to San Francisco by Mayor Willie Brown, toured the talk-show circuit and was named Sportsman of the Year by both the U.S. Olympic Committee and Sports Illustrated He also concluded a triumphant season of competition by winning the World Cup and U.S. National titles.
The following year, Moseley challenged the International Skiing Federation and U.S. Ski Team to relax their policy of preventing athletes from competing in professional events by entering ESPN's X-Games. He continued to appear in pro events over the next few years while helping to develop ski-related apparel and a video game, "Jonny Moseley Mad Trix."
Moseley focused on honing the "Dinner Roll," a move consisting of 360-degree horizontal and vertical rotations, for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Although he successfully completed the trick, he failed to impress the judges and finished fourth in the moguls competition (The Dinner Roll would earn more points in future competitions once judges came to understand its high degree of difficulty).
Moseley's inability to win a second Olympic medal had little effect on his favorable public perception. He hosted Saturday Night Live and was named keynote speaker at UC-Berkeley's 2002 Commencement Convocation, winning over critics who derided his own lack of a college degree.
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