Ragnhild Mowinckel skied her way into history in the Ladies Giant Slalom at the Winter Olympics. Norwegians woke up Thursday morning to their first Olympic medal in women’s alpine skiing since Laila Schou Nilsen won bronze in 1936.
“Did this really happen?” Mowinckel asked Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after she won silver.
NRK could assure the 25-year-old racer from Molde that, yes, it was true. Mowinckel rocketed up from fourth place after the first run to ski what commentators called a “fantastic” finale. She finished just 0.39 seconds behind Mikaela Shiffrin from the US, and 0.46 seconds ahead of Federica Brignone of Italy.
Mowinckel was thrilled and let the world know it. “This is the thing I’ve dreamed about and hoped for, for so many years,” she enthused. “I can’t manage to describe it all now. It’s just chaos, but good chaos.”
The Norwegian men’s alpine team could celebrate a double victory in the downhill, with Aksel Lund Svindal winning gold and Kjetil Jansrud taking silver. That’s less sensational, though, since Svindal and Jansrud have a history of winning along with other members of the men’s team past and present. Kjetil André Aamodt, for example, is among the most-winning Olympic medalists in history, and there have been plenty of other men’s champions over the past three decades.
Triumph for the women
The Norwegian women alpine skiers have never done so well, and the entire team was jubilant, also Jansrud, who said he was undergoing doping control when Mowinckel won. “It was just incredible, I have watched her development, and especially how she’s learned to step on the gas,” Jansrud told NRK. “No one has doubted that she’s good enough. This is incredibly impressive, and we’ll see her at the medals ceremony.”
Mowinckel’s silver inspired teammate Nina Haver-Løseth, who ended up 15th in Thursday’s race. “This is just so great for Norwegian women in alpine skiing,” Haver-Løseth told NRK. “I cried when she crossed the finish line. We have worked hard for this as a team.”
NRK’s commentator Marius Arnesen was also impressed. “This has been the best alpine day we’ve had,” he said. “This is an historic alpine day.” Or, as Norway’s national athletics federation put it, “What a day, sport is beautiful.”