Aksel Lund Svindal, up there with the greats
Reigning Olympic super-G champion Aksel Lund Svindal is one of the greatest Alpine skiers of the last decade and will be on the prowl for medals in four events at Sochi.
It seems inevitable that Norway’s Askel Lund Svindal will be in among the medals at Sochi 2014. After all, the imposing all-rounder, who is a worthy heir to Norwegian skiing greats Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Lasse Kjus, has been a regular presence on World Cup, world championship and Olympic podiums since 2007.
Setting out his objectives for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, he said: “My aim is to arrive in Sochi as the favourite. That’s something I can do by myself. I don’t need any luck for that.”
Svindal won the 2007 and 2009 FIS World Cup titles and has collected a total of seven crystal globes in super-G, giant slalom, downhill and the combined. He has been a serious World Cup contender in every season of a career, with the exception of 2008, when his career was put on hold for a year following a serious injury at Beaver Creek the previous December. His haul of eight world championship medals includes five golds (downhill in 2007 and 2013, giant slalom in 2007 and combined in 2009 and 2011), and he has also won three Olympic medals, beating the American duo Bode Miller and Andrew Weibrecht to take gold in the super-G title at Vancouver 2010, where he also collected downhill silver and giant slalom bronze.
An incredible experience
“It’s really cool to take part in the Olympic Games. It’s an incredible experience,” says Svindal, whose middle name, Lusk, is the maiden name of his mother, who died when he was eight. “You feel as if you belong to something that’s much bigger than your sport and your day-to-day surroundings.” Though he competes in every event bar the slalom, the Norwegian star is primarily a speed specialist and has notched a hatful of downhill and super-G wins at all the major venues on the global circuit. He is also a formidable competitor in giant slalom and is regularly in the mix in the combined.
As he looked ahead to Sochi, where he will contest all four Alpine ski events, Svindal offered an insight into the secrets of his success: “I visualise the race, the turns, the terrain and the line I need to take to find the fastest route to the bottom. I don’t listen to music. I try to block everything out and just focus. I also work on my adrenaline levels to find amount the energy I need to go fast.” Revealing what he has learned from his sport, he added: “To go hell for leather. To pick things up along the way by winning and losing. And to work hard and play fair.”
It is qualities such as those that could well see the Norwegian on top of the Olympic podium once more in 2014.