Whatever the terrain, weather conditions or snow type, Ivica Kostelic will always be in the frame. The hardworking Croatian, who is now one of the dominant figures of Alpine skiing, can call on the support of an impressive team, managed by his father Ante, and which includes his younger sister Janica, who, prior to her retirement in 2007, amassed four Olympic gold medals, five world titles and three large crystal globes. Ivica’s own tally so far stands at three Olympic silvers (in the combined in 2006 and 2010, and the slalom in 2010), and another three medals at the Worlds, including a slalom gold in 2003. All in all, he has managed 59 podium finishes in the World Cup, including 26 victories, yielding four small crystal globes as well as one large one in 2011.
Croatia has a total of 10 medals at the Olympic Winter Games, and, remarkably, nine of those have been won by members of the Kostelic clan. Ivica will be aiming to increase that contribution, particularly in the slalom where he boasts a phenomenally consistent record, as well as the super-combined, where his downhill prowess means that he is never too far behind the pure speed specialists, and is able to impose his superior technique in the slalom.
Collector of victories
“Always give your best,” is the Kostelic motto, and his approach to training – whether it is honing his technique in the summer or putting in the hard physical grind in the winter and spring - is every bit as intense as his attitude to competition itself. “In sport, it’s important to make a habit of being at your best,” he explains. The man dubbed ‘the Professor’ does not do things by half measures, a trait that has also enabled him to become an excellent musician. In a recent interview the intensity of his focus shone through. Asked if he collected anything, the terse reply was “Victories.” What would he have been if he hadn’t become a skier? “A skier!” He is also intensely patriotic, and commands a fanatical following in Croatia.
Kostelic first made his mark on the international stage in 2001, but has had to endure numerous knee injuries over the last 12 years. During that time he has gone from being a specialist in the technical disciplines (slalom and giant) into a formidable all-rounder who has gone on to excel in the super-G, has made his mark in the downhill, and has topped the World Cup general classifications, winning nine times in the combined (which comprises on downhill run and one slalom), in which he is a world and Olympic silver medallist and among the favourites for gold in Sochi, where ‘The Professor’ will be looking to deliver some harsh lessons to his rivals.
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