Injuries are never a good thing for a racer to experience but how you deal with the time away from the slopes can be defining. Just days before the season started in October, Aksel Lund Svindal suffered a season ending injury while playing with a football with the rest of the Norwegian team. Three and a half months later he competed in his only races for the season, the World Championships. Svindal explains what has he been up to outside of this period. …
As soon as he felt the pain in his Achilles, Svindal explained that his first thoughts were: “I have ruptured my Achilles, I need to get to hospital, my season is over.” It was that quick he admitted. “That was the hard fact, it was over in milliseconds.”
Svindal is a hugely popular figure in the skiing circles. It may be a few years since Finlay Mickel retired but the banter the two athletes traded in Kuhtai was that of life long friends and not old rivals on the slopes. This is part of the friendship that sport builds up. Both Svindal and Mickel discussed various sections of courses this season. The admiration of Matthias Mayer in Saalbach Hinterglemm as well as the way the Austrians had interpreted the rules regarding new slopes was discussed.
With the season nearing the business end of the season, Svindal was already looking to next season and making sure that he was in top shape. Although not a great slalom skier, after completing some PR commitments for sponsors HEAD, he was off to train with the Norwegian Slalom team.
So why did the big man only take part in the World Championships and then nothing else on the World Cup when he was in good form? Two sixth places in the World Championships, he qualified as defending Champion, were great performances on their own. Had he come back straight away after the World Championships and raced in the World Cup and things had not gone well, Svindal felt that he could have dropped out of the starting top thirty for World Cup races. When you drop out, it is the devils own job to get back in. Better to keep the position he was in before injury than risking the possibility of dropping out he felt.
As the defending World Champion from the Schladming Championships, Svindal had an open ticket to race in Vail Beaver Creek in February; he would not be taking any other racers spot in the races. There was nothing to be lost by him taking part in the training runs to see how he fared against the rest of the racers. “If I was going to be there, I may as well race,” he explained. “I made the decision to do the training runs after we had finished training in Aspen the day before. When I came into the finish after the training run, I felt horrible! When I looked at my time, I felt there must be a lot of people that feel horrible because I am not that far out.” With training delayed Svindal and the Norwegian team needed to make a decision before the team captains meeting.
With racers still racing and not wanting to mention this on the open airwaves, Svindal went and spoke with the Racing Manager for HEAD, Rainer Salzgeber. He asked what the Head guys thought and they replied he should do it, as he had nothing to lose!
Svindal is hugely respected across the nations. It was not until the Austrian media commented that he would not be able to make it back to defend his titles in Vail that the possibility crossed his mind of being able to make it. When asked his answer was “nothing is impossible.”
This question had Svindal thinking and while he thought he would not know until he had at least tried … (read more)
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Picture Aksel Lund Svindal – credit and all Rights Reserved – Zoom Agence