Exclusive: Aleksander Aamodt Kilde on Mikaela Shiffrin “we make each other better”

After an ACL injury kept him away from action, Norway’s leading alpine skier is back and comes to this year’s season new and improved. With partner Mikaela Shiffrin at his side, Kilde reveals exclusively to Olympics.com his learnings and how he is ready to apply them to what lies in wait.  

By Chloe Merrell
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

In the height of this year’s summer, a new winter power couple emerged.

Norway’s alpine skiing maestro Aleksander Aamodt Kilde confirmed on social media site Instagram his relationship status with American two-time Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin. The 29-year-old wrote in the caption underneath the post: "If you know, you know... and now you know."

Just a few months after their announcement, the 2020 overall World Cup champion shared an update on his partnership with Shiffrin to Olympics.com during the Atomic media event back in October:

“We're having an amazing time together and what I find really cool is that we can share experiences and have conversations about things I can't really have with anyone else.

“She has a lot of experience; I have some experience and we can make each other better.”

READ: Mikaela Shiffrin: It's hard to say everything is better

While the fact the two can compare notes certainly has its perks, there is more to their bond than just snow and skis:

“Also, you know, I like her as a person more than anything else. For me that she's a skier is just a bonus,” Kilde continued. “I really enjoy spending time with her, and that's what I keep in mind. Anything else is just a bonus.”

Shiffrin’s shared experience seems to be having a tangible effect on Kilde’s results. Since the two went public the Norwegian has had a storming start to the 2021/2022 World Cup season.

At Beaver Creek, Colorado he secured consecutive wins in downhill and Super G clinching his second-ever career back-to-back since the Val Gardena speed weekend in 2020/2021.

It was a significant win for Norway as they lost five-time Olympic medallist Kjetil Jansrud to a knee ligament injury early this season and will subsequently see him on the side-lines for Beijing 2022.

Aleksander Kilde: Thriving on adrenaline

The weekend’s dominance also confirmed that the ‘Attack Viking’ is very much back after an anterior cruciate ligament ruled him out of last year’s World Cup season and FIS Alpine Ski World Championships in Cortina, Italy.

His commitment to speed and the fine margins has always driven Kilde; next to no one questions his thrill-seeking intentions:

“Speed is one thing that is for sure, a part of that adrenaline feeling.

“I think the whole package of being a downhill skier is probably the most, and the coolest experience you can ever have,” Kilde says with a grin. “For me, it’s more of controlling it [speed]. Jumping far, being stable in the air and then coming to the finish and crossing the finishing line and just getting that rush. It’s unbelievable; it’s hard to describe.”

Given his love for the intensity and risk so intimately bound up in his discipline and his credentials on the slopes it remains something of a surprise that the skier hasn't won any medals on the world’s biggest stages.

To date the Norwegian is yet to take a title at either the World Championships or the Olympic Games. As to why that might be the case, the two-time globe winner (He won the Super G title in 2016) said:

“It’s a question that is really hard for me to answer because I actually don't know.

“I think I ruined one World Championships and one Olympic Games because I changed equipment and I got injured and then, yeah, it's just… it's excuses all the way.

“I feel like it's a little bit bad timing because the years I have been doing well has been 2016 and 2020. Those are the two seasons I've been doing well in the last five years. In between, there has been a little bit too much on and off with the equipment and the injuries and not really consistent enough to deliver in World Champs and the Olympics.

“I still have some years, so I haven't given up and I know the question is there and it's totally normal to ask that question. But for me, it's always trying to stay positive and keep the momentum up.”

Aleksander Kilde: Injury forces a change in perspective

Right now, momentum certainly is with the Norwegian, his recent results have shown just that. Undoubtedly he will take extra confidence from them because of the severity of the ACL injury he suffered just 11 months ago.

The recovery process and the mental shifts he went through as he progressed through the rehabilitation stages have taught Kilde a lot about himself:

“It's been quite the learning process, because also, you know, it's the first time so I have had to kind of cope with things I've never coped with before,” explained the skier. “You know how the body reacts to an injury. I've never felt that before. I know now how the body is kind of going into emergency mode and shutting everything around the injured place down to recover as well as possible.

“It's been tough, but it's also been really fun to see how the body is built and how the mind works into these processes.”

For an athlete that for years was fixated on the smallest of margins panning out to a more macro picture was also, in a way, refreshing for Kilde:

“The normal things as a skier were just on the side for a bit because it was more about trying to walk properly again. It's taking it down to that level. It's kind of unusual for an athlete that is working on trying to lift heavy, jump far, working on small adjustments to shave about a tenth of seconds, and that is definitely a different type of working that I'm used to.

“I also learned that people that struggle with injuries and the normal life, they and they're pretty awesome too, because it's not easy. It was definitely not easy.”

READ MORE: Alpine skiing at Beijing 2022: Top 5 things to know

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (Left) and Mikaela Shiffrin (Right) during the Atomic Media event in October.

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