WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) -- Giuliano Razzoli learned well from masterful mentor Alberto Tomba, winning the men's Olympic slalom race Saturday and giving Italy its first gold medal of the Vancouver Games.
Tomba watched and advised his 25-year-old protege from the finish area, and wept with delight before the two men shared an embrace.
Razzoli's victory was the first for an Italian man in an Olympic Alpine race since Tomba won the giant slalom at the 1992 Albertville Games. Tomba also won slalom gold at the 1988 Calgary Games and was the last Italian man on an Alpine podium after taking slalom silver at the 1994 Lillehammer Games.
"He was my idol," Razzoli said. "I started to ski when he started to win in 1988 in Calgary. Now he's my friend -- and I'm a gold medalist."
Tomba, now 44 and working in Whistler for Italian television, jumped up and down with both arms raised in triumph when his pupil crossed the line.
"Now I can understand how it is for the parents," said Tomba, like Razzoli a native of the Emilia Romagna region. "It's more emotional. I think it's better to be racing."
Razzoli led after the first run and won in a combined time of 1 minute, 39.32 seconds, holding off the second-leg charge of Ivica Kostelic by 0.16 seconds. The 30-year-old Croat got his second silver medal of the Vancouver Games, and Andre Myhrer of Sweden earned bronze, 0.44 back. Myhrer's medal was the first in Alpine skiing for Sweden's men in 22 years.
Razzoli won despite ignoring Tomba's text-message advice that morning to ski safe first and be aggressive on the second leg.
On a choppy, slushy course, Razzoli went for it through the fog and wet snow and finished the first run in the lead by 0.43 second as 10 of the top 30 racers failed to finish.
In the interview area later, Tomba was there to playfully chastise his protege.
"I told you to take it easy on the first run and attack the second," Tomba said.
"I know, I know, but I couldn't stop myself," Razzoli answered.
Razzoli later explained he learned from past mistakes when he would leave himself too much to do, and wipe out in the second run.
"I knew that I was at the Olympic Games, and I could get a result," he said. "I attacked the first run. The second run I didn't take any risks, and everything went well."
Tomba was proud that Razzoli heeded his second piece of advice sent in the tense wait between runs.
"He controlled the race like he needed to," Tomba said. "The first run was really taxing. I told him to keep his eyes open, be fast, and be ferocious. I told him to stay awake, because you can fall asleep at 2 (p.m.) in the afternoon."
Razzoli was making his Olympic debut, though he skied as a forerunner testing the slalom course at the 2006 Turin Games.
Kostelic was fourth fastest in the morning but moved up to claim his third career Olympic silver. He also was runner-up behind Ted Ligety of the United States in traditional combined in Turin.
Myhrer reached the podium with the best second-leg time -- 0.46 faster than any rival -- after being 10th in the morning.
The 27-year-old Swede won his only World Cup victory in Beaver Creek, Colorado, three seasons ago, but was second behind Kostelic in Wengen, Switzerland, last month.
Defending Olympic champion Benjamin Raich of Austria was fourth, 0.05 off the podium, leaving the powerful men's team without an Alpine medal.
Raich hoped to claim his fifth career Olympic medal, which would have made him the most decorated Austrian Alpine skier in Winter Games history. He is tied with four with Hermann Maier and Stephan Eberharter, both now retired.
Bode Miller, who earned a medal in each of the three opening races in Whistler, straddled the fifth gate in the opening run. Miller had been trying to become the first man to win four Alpine medals in the same Olympics, after his gold in the super-combined, silver in the super-G and bronze in the downhill.
"I just hooked a tip and it's obviously disappointing when you're fired up and you're skiing well and everything's there," Miller said.
Wet snow, rain and fog affected visibility in the first leg and softened the Dave Murray course, which was staging a sixth race following the women's slalom Friday.
Course workers spread fertilizer and thousands of liters (gallons) of water on the track to bind and harden the slushy surface. Slalom racers prefer an icy crust which allows them to carve tight turns on their sharp-edged skis.