Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway’s downhill skiing star, has been back on skis this past week after tearing his Achilles tendon in a freak accident last autumn. Now he aims to give fellow Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud some competition, after Jansrud won the men’s downhill in Kitzbuhel over the weekend.
Jansrud, who won Olympic gold last year in the Super G and bronze in the downhill, now holds eight World Cup victories as well. He was the first Norwegian to win at Kutzbuhel in a dozen years on Saturday.
Jansrud called his winning streak “a natural development” when he met reporters after the race: “I’ve had my challenges in recent years, but now I’m getting closer to the physical level where I want to be,” newspaper Aftenposten quoted him as saying. “It’s the first time in my career that I’ve done everything I planned to do for 12 months in a row.” Jansrud has been free from injury during that period, noted Norwegian coach Tron Moger.
Now Svindal, getting over his own injury, is keen to try catching up with his younger teammate from Norway. He hopes to take part in the fight for medals at the upcoming World Championships in Beaver Creek, even though most coaches and doctors dismissed the possibility last fall.
“I’ve had some fine progression, and that’s good,” Svindal, who was in Kitzbuhel himself, told news bureau NTB. He impressed many with his performance during some training runs last week and he’s more than eager to race again.
“When I first put on skis again, I was far from being able to race,” he said. “Now, fortunately, it’s going the right way.”
So he flew to the US along with Jansrud and Aleksander Aamot Kide on Sunday, for some training runs in Aspen, a week before all three head for Beaver Creek. Svindal won’t have had any actual race experience so far this season, a major disadvantage if he’s to make it into the World Championships.
“I just need to ski as many rounds as I can,” he told NTB. “In order to ski in the World Championships, I have to be able to ski without any pain and without any danger that I destroy my foot. If I can manage that, I can rely on being able to ski fast again.”