Sven-Åke Lundbäck is one of the few skiers who managed to win an Olympic gold medal, an individual World Championship, and the Vasaloppet. He took part in three Winter Olympics (1972, 1976 and 1980), with his greatest achievement and only medal the gold he won in the 15 km at his first Olympics in Sapporo. After a disappointing 13th in the 30 km, he was looking for revenge in the subsequent 15 km and won the race by a margin of more than half a minute ahead of Fyodor Simashov. In the relay, he was close to the bronze medal but fell on the home stretch and could not hold on to the last Swiss runner. Two years later, at the 1974 World Ski Championships in Falun he was placed fourth in the 50 km and seventh in the 15 km. His best result at the 1976 Winter Olympics was another fourth place in the relay.
Lundbäck’s best year was probably 1978 when he won two gold medals in the 50 km and relay at the World Championships in Lahti. In 1981, Lundbäck was an unexpected winner of the Vasaloppet, making his début in the ski marathon. After this superb run, one of the hills on the course later was named "Lundbäck Hill." In addition, he won the 50 km event at the Holmenkollen Ski Festival in 1976 and 10 Swedish individual championships including two triples (15/30/50 km) in 1976 and 1978.
Lundbäck was known for having an oxygen consumption rate (VO2 Max) of 94.6 mL/kg/minute one of the highest ever recorded. After his active career he attended GIH (Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences) in Stockholm until 1984 to become a physical education teacher. For many years he worked at Bergviksgatan School in Luleå as a sports teacher and retired when the school was closed in 2011. He is married to the former cross-country skier, Olympian and nine-time Swedish Champion Lena Carlzon-Lundbäck. Together they have a daughter and a son, who also compete in cross-country. In 1980 Thomas Wassberg, his mate on the national team, refused to accept the Svenska Dagbladet gold medal after his gold medal in the 15 km in Lake Placid because Lundbäck had not received the prize in 1978 after his successes at the World Championships.
Athlete Olympic Results Content