The reigning Olympic super-G champion, Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, hopes to increase his medal collection after an impressive downhill victory at the test event for PyeongChang 2018.
After a comfortable win, by a margin of 0.2 seconds, over Italy’s Dominik Paris and the USA’s Steven Nyman, Jansrud was one of many racers who were quick to state their approval for the course where the world’s leading downhillers will go for Olympic gold in February 2018:
“If you want to be the best, you have to be capable of skiing on everything. It’s a more than acceptable Olympic downhill run,” concluded the Norwegian after the test event.
Super-G champion at Sochi 2014, Jansrud has since won three small crystal globes: for downhill and super-G in 2015 and super-G in 2017, finishing second overall both seasons. He is the undisputed leader of Norway’s impressive Alpine contingent, and has spent the season ahead of PyeongChang vying for the top of the overall World Cup standings with Austria’s Marcel Hirscher.
Made in Lillehammer
Born on 28 August 1985, Jansrud grew up in the heart of what he calls “Norway’s winter sports paradise” in a town called Vinstra near Lillehammer, and it was here that he took up Alpine skiing aged seven.
Since then, he has managed to turn the Olympiabakken in Kvitfjell into something of a fortress. It was there that he recorded his first FIS World Cup victory in the super-G back in 2012; and he has since enjoyed six more triumphs on the same slopes: a downhill/super-G double in 2014 and 2015, the super-G in 2016 and the downhill a year later. In achieving the last of those victories, he became the first Norwegian to win on the full course at Olympiabakken, which is now regarded as one of the classic runs on the international Alpine circuit.
Though now regarded a speed specialist, Jansrud launched his career in the technical events. He won giant slalom silver at the Alpine Junior World Ski Championships in Maribor (SLO) in 2004, going on to collect his first Olympic medal in the same event at Vancouver 2010, where he finished second to Switzerland’s Carlo Janka. His World Cup debut came three years later in the slalom.
Jansrud currently has eight World Cup downhill wins to his name, the most memorable of those coming on the Streif in Kitzbühel (AUT) in 2015. His tally of 19 wins on the World Cup circuit – out of a total of 41 podium finishes – also includes nine super-G victories, one parallel giant slalom and one combined.
Full set of Olympic medals
Looking back at his Olympic debut at Turin 2006, the Norwegian says he remembers feeling completely at ease. “I was at the top of my game, feeling unbeatable. I came fourth in the slalom in Beaver Creek that season and I was ranked 17 in the slalom by the age of 20,” he recalls.
Tenth in the combined in Sestrière, Jansrud broke his thumb in the giant slalom and had to return to Norway for an operation that brought his season to a premature end. After making his comeback, the Norwegian set about the task of becoming one of the best skiers in the world, a status he cemented by winning that Olympic silver in 2010 along with a string of World Cup races.
Jansrud suffered a further injury when he fell in the super-G at the 2013 World Championships in Schladming (AUT), tearing a ligament in his right knee. “Rehabilitation […] went faster than many believed possible” he wrote. “In February 2014, I managed to fulfil my dream and claim gold in the super-G and bronze in the downhill to complete my set of Olympic medals.”
He attributed his success that season to “being stubborn, working hard and never giving up”. These are all qualities that continue to stand him in good stead.
Extending Norway’s super-G supremacy
Jansrud enjoyed a successful 2016/17 campaign, recording downhill wins in Val d’Isère (FRA) and Kvitfjell, and super-G victories in Val d’Isère, Val Gardena (ITA) and Bormio (ITA). The season also saw him take super-G silver behind Canada’s Eric Guay at the worlds in St Moritz (SUI).
“I am very privileged to be able to pursue my dreams,” he reflected at the end of that season. “The journey isn’t over though and I want to keep on winning.”Kjetil Jansrud Norway
Jansrud will need little motivating when it comes to defending his super-G title in PyeongChang. The event has been the sole preserve of Norwegian skiers since 2002, when Kjetil Andre Aamodt won gold, followed by Aksel Lund Svindal in 2010 and Jansrud in 2014. It is a proud record, and one that the 32-year-old will have every chance of extending in 2018.