STREIF - One Hell of a Ride

Aksel Lund Svindal / Norway

The 32-year-old Norwegian is currently the star of the skiing arena, a model athlete and a media darling. Yet although he seems to have a monopoly on success, Svindal is admired by friends and fans alike for his down-to-earth attitude: “In Norway, we believe that a normal family has two children, a cabin in the mountains, a pick-up and a Golden Retriever … I like that idea. ‘Normal’ doesn’t necessarily mean boring. You can be normal and still do a whole lot of exciting stuff. That’s what I try to do.”

 

And when it comes to generating excitement, he definitely succeeds. In spite of his everyman demeanor, Svindal is a speed freak who feels just as comfortable behind the wheel of a racing car as he does on skis. The breakthrough of his skiing career came in the 2006–­07 winter season, when he won two World Championship gold medals and became the overall World Cup champion. In November 2007, however, he confronted the downside of ski racing when he crashed badly on the Golden Eagle Jump at Beaver Creek in the USA and sustained multiple broken bones in his face as well as internal injuries.

 

Svindal’s career seemed over; he was incapacitated for weeks and lost 17 kilograms of muscle mass. But less than a year later, he was not only back on his skis but back in World Cup competition. At his first race – right there in Beaver Creek where he’d crashed only 11 months before – he virtually soared down the Birds of Prey slope and won the race by six hundredths of a second. This victory captivated the ski world, and Svindal has since been regarded as one of the greats in his sport. In the same season he captured another World Championship and became the overall World Cup winner once again. Since then, he has won numerous titles and clinched many more top positions – but a victory on the Streif eludes him to this day.