Comeback king Svindal eyes gold
PYEONGCHANG – Reuters
Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal bears all the scars from horrific crashes and career-threatening injuries as mementos of a tough life on the piste, but at the age of 35, he heads into Feb. 11’s men’s downhill as one of the favourites for Olympic gold.
In the final chapter of a brilliant career, Svindal has the chance to become the oldest man ever to win an alpine skiing gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games.
Durability is something of a trait in Norwegian skiers.
Svindal’s boyhood idol Kjetil Andre Aamodt won Super-G gold at Turin in 2006 aged 34, a record until Austria’s Mario Matt won the slalom at Sochi four years ago, also at the age of 34.
Lasse Kjus won gold in the combined as a 23-year-old on home snow in Lillehammer in 1994 and was still competing in three events at the Turin Games as a 35-year-old.
Svindal, who won gold, silver and bronze in Vancouver in 2010, failed to medal in Sochi and has been plagued by injuries in recent years but the Norwegian looks to have hit form at just the right time.
So far this season he has won World Cup races in downhill at Beaver Creek and Val Gardena, and picked up a victory in Super-G at Kitzbuehel in January.
“I’m really happy I’m back because, honestly, the last two years were not super easy. A big knee injury is probably the worst injury you can have as a ski racer,” he told Reuters.
Svindal certainly is back.
He sits second in the World Cup downhill standings -- behind Switzerland’s Beat Feuz -- and also faces a strong challenge from in-form 24-year-old German Thomas Dressen, who won the prestigious Kitzbuehel downhill last month.
The Norwegian, however, remains focused on getting the one prize that has so far eluded him. “If I could choose one race to win this year, it would be the Olympic downhill,” he said.