Giorgio Rocca's dream of crowning the Turin Winter Olympics by claiming slalom gold for Italy came to an abrupt end at Sestriere Colle today.

Hot favourite Rocca, who won the first five slalom races of the current World Cup season, slipped and fell midway through his first run.

It was a nightmare end to the Games for Rocca and his legion of fans who had hoped to see their man emulate the great Alberto Tomba and sail to victory.

Rocca said: "I lost a great opportunity that can come back only in the next Olympics. I was skiing very well and felt good before the race. It is a pity and I am sorry."

Hero Tomba, who claimed gold in Nagano in 1998, watched Rocca's misfortune from the finish area and said:  This can happen. Giorgio made a mistake and it shouldn't have happened. 

Bode Miller, Ted Ligety and Briton James Leuzinger also failed to finish the first run with Austrian Benjamin Raich looking set to hold the lead going into the second run later today.