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The elder brother of female skiing legend Janica, Ivica Kostelic has himself enjoyed a remarkable Alpine career, earning no fewer than four Olympic silver medals.
Born in 1979, Ivica Kostelic grew up in a sport-loving family in the Croatian capital of Zagreb. His parents, Ante and Marica, both played elite-level handball, with the former taking it upon himself to introduce their two children to skiing and later becoming their coach. Both Ivica and Janica – three years his junior - demonstrated great talent, attaining eye-catching results from an early age.
Between them, the two siblings would later effectively rewrite the history of Croatian winter sport. Janica went on to become one of the greatest skiers ever, winning six Olympic medals (including four golds), five FIS Alpine World Ski Championship titles and three overall victories in the FIS World Cup, before retiring in 2007.
Ivica, meanwhile, shot to stardom by pulling off a shock World Cup slalom success in November 2001 in Aspen (USA), despite starting in bib number 64. Recording the seventh-best time in the first run, he dominated the second to land a historic maiden win, the first of three that season. Three more podium finishes saw him top the slalom standings and win the discipline’s small crystal globe, his first international trophy.
During the 2003 World Championships in Saint-Moritz, the Kostelic siblings steered Croatia to the summit of Alpine skiing, as Ivica emerged victorious in the slalom and celebrated in the arms of his sister, who had achieved the same feat in the women’s event the day before. The results ensured them a heroes’ welcome when they returned to the Croatian capital.
Ivica’s momentum was significantly disrupted by injuries throughout 2004 and 2005, after which he began to branch out to other disciplines, improving his performances in speed events to become a serious contender in the combined and super combined. Indeed, it was in the former competition that he attained his first Olympic podium, clinching silver at Turin 2006 behind Ted Ligety (USA).
After returning from a knee injury in 2009, Kostelic continued to impress at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, where he scooped two silvers, one in the combined and one in the slalom, finishing behind the USA’s Bode Miller and Italy’s Giuliano Razzoli. Having added the super-G and downhill to his repertoire, the Croatian athlete gained his first and thus far only overall World Cup title the following year. He also won three successive small crystal globes in the combined event between 2011 and 2013.
In February 2014, by which point he had amassed 330 World Cup starts producing 59 podiums, including 26 victories, Kostelic embarked upon his fourth Olympic adventure. Favourite for the super combined crown after securing a solid seventh spot in the downhill, the 34-year-old was pipped to the post by Sandro Vileta (SUI), but still came away from Sochi with a fourth silver medal. Remarkably, he and his sister now account for ten of the 11 medals won by Croatian competitors at the Winter Olympic Games as of 2014.