Birk Ruud: Finding inspiration from Olympic great Usain Bolt - and also DJ Kahled

Birk Ruud won Olympic gold in style at the men’s big air freestyle skiing final by (literally) flying the flag for Norway on his final run. Olympics.com caught up with him ahead of the men’s slopestyle.

By Ed Knowles
Picture by Getty Images

Birk Ruud is a part of Olympic history already after an incredible performance to win big air Olympic gold at Beijing 2022. The 21-year-old is also taking some inspiration from another Olympic great: Usain Bolt.

“Usain Bolt is one of the greatest athletes of all time… he was a really good athlete, but he's really cool character [too],” he said to Olympics.com

“It's kind of different, though, skiing and running. But you know, he's the GOAT.”

The Norwegian posted on Instagram a video with the song by DJ Kahled called ‘All I Do Is Win’.

“I hope [that] maybe DJ Khaled could see the video, maybe … [Maybe] we have some dinner with him... I know he's into gold as well.”

Ruud received comments of congratulations on the post from fellow Olympic champions Karston Warholm and Ailing (Eileen) Gu .

“I'm inspired by a lot of those people that are commenting, and it's great to see that they also I enjoy what I do... So, it's a big love.”

Norway coach Herman Orheim on Birk Ruud

Women’s big air Olympic champion freeskier Eileen Gu of China has recently passed 1 million followers on Instagram. It’s brought more attention than ever before to the disciplines.

“The media pays more attention to freeski now,” Birk’s coach Herman Orheim said. “In freeski you back everyone from every team… it maybe shows to the world that freeski is maybe a bit of a different breed than the sports where we count seconds or metres.”

Orheim has been coaching Ruud since he was a little boy. Ruud made an emotional dedication of his Olympic win to his late father.

“His father was obviously really important to him. And I think, also, he has understood that there's more to life than skiing. His family is the most important [thing] for him.

“He handles pressure a bit differently than maybe others where they see skiing as their only option.”

Birk Ruud of Norway celebrating winning gold in the freeski big air competition at Beijing 2022
Picture by Getty Images

Birk Ruud: 'It's just like a love relationship with skiing'

Birk seems completely relaxed and is often pictured smiling – especially on the slopes.

“It's just like a love relationship with the skiing. No pressure at all. And if I want pressure, I will put pressure on myself.”

It’s an attitude that he acquired from his father.

“He told me to do whatever, to follow my dream and do what I want to. And I think that's what has made me come here today.

“He was always there to support, so my family never pushed me in any direction. They said, ‘We love you. Even if you quit skiing today, it doesn't matter. You do exactly whatever you want to. But as long as you finish school!!! You have to finish school!'”

For the record, Birk did finish school.

The big air venue was a hit on social media at Beijing 2022
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Birk Ruud schedule

The men’s slopestyle freeski qualifying will be on Tuesday, 15 February. The final is scheduled for Wednesday, 16 February.

Norway have a fantastic chance of topping the podium. Aside from Birk, Christian Nummedal, Ferdinand Dahl, and Tormod Frostad could all challenge for podium places.

“I think all four boys could go to the top,” coach Orheim said. “Obviously, you don't win a Olympic medal if you don't get through qualifiers. So that's our first obstacle. I think it's definitely possible to get all four boys on the top spot.”

The result is seemingly not the top priority for Birk. His primary focus is fun.

“I'm in love with being in the air and I think also to master new stuff.. to learn and progress is something that really gives me a lot of energy and makes me really happy.”

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