Henrik Kristoffersen, a 24-year-old skier from Rælingen outside Oslo, finally won his first gold medal in World Championship competition on Friday. Kristoffersen flew down the grand slalom course in Åre, Sweden, and was described by one commentator as an “artist on skis.”
Kristoffersen beat Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who took silver, and Alexis Pinturault of France. “It’a about time,” Kristoffersen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after the race. “It’s fantastic. I’ve workd so hard, also my father and the whole team.”
It was a major upturn for the young Norwegian who now lives in Salzburg. He has been plagued by illness and also had a highly public dispute with Norway’s national ski federation over sponsors that wound up in court. They ultimately settled their differences, but Kristoffersen wasn’t allowed to compete with his private sponsor’s logo on his caps or helmet.
He’s had 16 World Cup victories, and won Olympic silver (also in the grand slalom) in 2018 and Olympic bronze in 2014. He’s also a medal candidate in Sunday’s slalom competition, the last day of the World Championships at Åre.
Since the Swedish ski resort isn’t far from the Norwegian city of Trondheim, there were many Norwegian fans among the spectators on Friday. “I have to thank all the Norwegians who have traveled here, for creating such a great atmosphere,” Kristoffersen told NRK. “It’s incredibly cool to hear all the cheering, it’s the closest I can come to competing at home.”
Kjetil André Aamodt, the former multiple Olympic-, World Cup and World Championship medal winner who’s now a commentator for NRK, raved about Kristoffersen’s performance on Friday. “He’s especially impressive in the fastest portions,” Aamodt said. “We had expected both Pinturault and Hirscher to be fastest, they’ve both won the Super-G, but Henrik took it away from the giants.”
Norway topped the medal count at the World Championships along with Switzerland as of Friday evening, with two gold medals (following Kjetil Jansrud’s victory in the men’s downhill last weekend) one silver and a bronze.