– Although I had done well before 2007, the Championships was my big breakthrough with victories in both downhill and giant slalom. I won my first gold medal, or the first two, at a major event so it was a big breakthrough in many ways, said Aksel Lund Svindal.
He was one of the favorites to win the super-G and super combined at Åre 2007 but ended up returning home with gold medals in the downhill and giant slalom instead.
– I did not expect to win the downhill. It was unbelievable to win gold at the World Championships. It gave me a lot of self-confidence and I felt that everything was going so well that I even won the giant slalom. 2007 is still one of my best years. Åre went just perfectly.
Svindal turns 36 on 26 December, and has already indicated that the current season will be his last. The long career has left its marks, especially in his knees, and a number of scars. Svindal has managed to return successfully after several injuries but has struggled with the most recent one. Last summer, he was skeptical about his ability to even race this season. His 2016 injury required several operations and dragged on with knee pain. Despite much doubt, Svindal decided to tackle the World Championships season. He is hoping to be at his best at Åre 2019 – and will be hard to beat.
– It will be crazy in Åre. It’s 12 years since the last Championships and I had been racing the World Cup for some four years then. 2019 is my 16thyear in the World Cup and I hope to be fast again with the Championships coming up.
He has great memories from Åre and, with the two gold medals from 2007 along with another three from other World Championships, remains a big medal and crowd favorite.
– Because it’s Sweden, the weather will be similar to Norway obviously, so the snow conditions can be an advantage. When I was younger that was a big advantage but by now I have raced and trained all around the world so that snow conditions are no longer that important, stated Svindal and continued:
– Another advantage will be the Norwegian crowds. I remember the 2007 Championships – it is much closer for friends and family to come so we will have lots of Norwegians there. That’s great!
The entire ski world hopes to see the 190 cm tall and 100 kg heavy Norwegian at the start in February. As his own career draws to a close, Aksel Lund Svindal hopes to inspire others to ski.
– I think there are many good values in alpine skiing and that the Olympic Games and World Championships are inspiring. Our sport is very transparent and pure. That’s what inspires people about skiing at large events. Ski sports can also teach a lot about life and values.
Aksel Lund Svindal in a nutshell
Born 26 December 1982, in Lörenskog in the Akershus municipality
World Cup starts: 383
World Cup podiums: 80
World Cup victories: 36
World Championships medals: eight, five gold
Olympic medals: four, two gold
First World Cup start: Sölden, October 2001
Best friends with teammate (and rival) Kjetil Jansrud