Aksel Lund Svindal is a two-time Olympic champion and one of the world’s most successful Alpine skiers.
Following on from Eliud Kipchoge, he participated in an exclusive Athlete365 webinar
Aksel advised you about staying focused and re-setting goals during times of uncertainty, drawing on his own experiences.
It says a lot about the longevity of Aksel Lund Svindal’s remarkable career that his most cherished sporting memory is the Olympic downhill gold he won at PyeongChang 2018 – at the age of 35.
“There are some [titles] that have a little bit of an extra flair behind them, and for us, downhill is our Formula One and the Olympics are the biggest thing we do,” he recalled, speaking to olympics.com last year.
“When you put those two together, the Olympic downhill gold has that little bit extra that you maybe don’t get from all the other golds. It does give you a rush when people announce you as Olympic downhill champion.”
A star of the slopes
The Norwegian grew up in a family of skiing enthusiasts who introduced him to the sport from a young age, helping him to burst onto the professional scene with his World Cup debut as an 18-year-old in 2001, the same season he won four medals at the Junior World Ski Championships.
He made his Olympic debut at Turin 2006 but marked his arrival at the top table of the sport in 2007, with the first two World Championship golds of his senior career in the downhill and giant slalom events in Åre, Sweden. It was towards the end of the same year, however, that he suffered a serious injury after crashing in a race at Beaver Creek, Colorado, resulting in facial fractures and significant cuts on his body.
While the setback forced Aksel to miss the rest of the season, he returned stronger than ever with another World Championship title at Val-d’Isère (France) in 2009 – this time in the combined event – and his second overall World Cup title. A year later in Vancouver, he clinched the first Olympic gold medal of his career in the super-G, adding further medals in the downhill and giant slalom.
THERE ARE SOME [TITLES] THAT HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF AN EXTRA FLAIR BEHIND THEM, AND FOR US, DOWNHILL IS OUR FORMULA ONE AND THE OLYMPICS ARE THE BIGGEST THING WE DO.
AKSEL LUND SVINDAL
“It’s something you remember for the rest of your life”
He failed to reach the podium at Sochi 2014 – results that demonstrate both the high standard and the unpredictability of international skiing – but his World Championship gold in the downhill event at Schladming (Austria) the previous season had seen him make history as the first-ever male Alpine skier to win four World Championship titles in a row.
Then came his personal sporting highlight at PyeongChang 2018 – a fitting end to a glorious Olympic career on the slopes, with Aksel retiring a year later, his standing as one of Norway’s greatest–ever sportspeople secure.
“It’s definitely not to be taken for granted that you are able to be fit, be fast, have the margins on your side, and for everything to come together on that one day,” he summarised while reminiscing on his PyeongChang triumph.
“All the tension that builds up, the nerves, you really want it; and then when you are able to get it done on that one special day, that is something you remember for the rest of your life.”