5 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT...AKSEL LUND SVINDAL
By Michael Mastarciyan
Aksel Lund Svindal is living with a deep, dark secret that’s tormenting his soul and haunting every, single day of his life.
It’s a secret that’s shrouded in shame - and now, for the first time, he’s ready to go public...so here it its...Aksel Lund Svindal, the first born son of Ina Lund and Bjorn Svindal, the pride of Norway, a descendant of Vikings who fought and hunted with weapons in their hands and skis on their feet, yes the same Aksel Lund Svindal who is an Olympic Champion, a World Champion, and an all-round World Cup alpine racing legend...sucks at cross-country skiing!
Some, I am sure, are saying, “So what?” While others, unfamiliar with the history of cross-country skiing, are scoffing at Aksel’s titanic embarrassment about his lack of skills on Nordic skis, and questioning exactly why such an enormous alpine talent would even give a rat’s tail about it.
Well, for the sake of these people, a quick reminder that Norway is the birthplace of cross-country skiing, and zipping around on Nordic skis has been the sporting lifeblood of the Norwegian people for more than 5000 years - ample reasons for any citizen of that country to feel a wee bit of discomfort at the idea of sucking at the national pastime.
So without further ado, here’s more about what it’s like to live with the shame of being a terrible cross-country skier and four other things you probably didn’t know about Aksel Lund Svindal - and no, his relationship with American ski racing super star Julia Mancuso is not one of the 5 things you should know about Aksel - you can “like” Julia or Aksel’s Facebook page or visit their blogs for more on that kind of lovey-dovey stuff...although, she does get a few mentions here and there in this article, but that’s not my fault, it was Aksel who brought it up....anyhow, here we go...
“I’m Norwegian and cross-country is like THE thing in Norway and I think I pretty much haven’t been on cross-country skis since I was 10-year-old. I don’t even own a pair and that’s something to be ashamed of coming from Norway.”
“Actually, now that I think of it, the last time I was on cross-country skis was when Julia(Mancuso) made me do it when we were in Norway two or three years ago. We went up and rented some crappy equipment and let’s just say it was interesting.”
“I’m a little bit ashamed (he grins) by my lack of cross-country skills, given that people say Norwegians are basically born with skis on their feet, and those are cross-country they’re referring to, not alpine. The centre of the alpine skiing world is the Alps which is not in Norway, and as Norwegians, we’re supposed to be excellent cross-country skiers, but uhhhhhh, I can’t say that I really follow that kind of thinking (with an even bigger grin).”
“My main issue with cross-country skiing is the fact that I don’t have time to do it, and when I do have time, it’s not a priority. I’ve got my own randonnee ski touring stuff and I’d rather go up to a peak and ski down it, so if I have the possibility of doing that, I’d rather do that. The fact that I’m an alpine ski racer on the World Cup tour also kinda means that everytime I see snow I try going faster downhill, and I guess that’s why I haven’t practiced my cross-country skiing.”
2. AKSEL’S FAVOURITE PLACE ON EARTH DURING THE SUMMERTIME IS IN - SWEDEN!
“Okay, here’s another thing people don’t know about me, and I probably shouldn’t say it as a proud Norwegian, but one of my favourite places in the world is in SWEDEN (he grins).’
“I have a house on the ocean on the west coast of Sweden, about two hours south of Oslo, just barely across the Norwegian border. and I have to say, the west coast of Sweden, during good Scandinavian summers is pretty awesome.”
“My house in Sweden is my favourite place to be in summertime, it’s really special too because it’s my place and it’s large enough to get the whole family together. It’s also a great place to have friend’s over to spend the weekend. My dad’s there a lot too and we share it. I haven’t had it that long, but I know it’s a fun place to hang out and I try to get out there as much as I can.”
“It’s a pretty private location, it’s on the water and I have a dock and a boat. It’s a great place to just hang around, have late evening barbeques, go in the water, go windsurfing, waterskiing. I also love stand-up paddling when I’m there, there are a lot of islands, so you can go island to island. It’s perfect for the lazy days of summer, but you can also do a lot of activities too. It’s cool when you’re on the water like that because you don’t have to plan stuff, it just happens.”
3. AKSEL IS A “HEALTHY FOOD NUT” - WHICH IS DEFINITELY NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH BEING A “HEALTH FOOD NUT”....
“I really like healthy food, but that doesn’t mean I’m a ‘health-food nut’. For instance, I’m not a vegetarian because I really like a good steak, and I couldn’t live without meat, I mean I guess I could if I had to, but I wouldn’t want to. What food tastes like when you put it in your mouth is one thing, how it makes you feel later is a whole other thing though. I don’t want to rip fast food, but I feel sick if I have it. I don’t consider myself a ‘health food nut’ per se, with super strict rules and regulations, but I do consider myself a “healthy food nut” in that I love to eat stuff that’s good for me and very often that’s green stuff.”
“I used to get a lot of flak about being a healthy eater. Maybe like five years ago my teammates would make fun of me because if we were at a big lunch and there wass maybe some meat but tons of salad, my plate would be stacked with salad with some chicken on top. They would call me names like “salad boy” and stuff like that, or they’d tell me I was eating like a marathon runner, or like I was on a diet or something, and generally give me a lot of sh*t. But the funny thing is, what do you know, now my teammates do pretty much the same as me in the eating department. A guy like Jansrud (Kjetil) is a ‘bad’ as me now in terms of healthy eating, and I think not because I ski fast, but once you start eating a little healthier, it just feels better.”
4. AKSEL’S BUCKET LIST INCLUDES...LOTS OF SPEED-RELATED ACTIVITIES....
“A lot of the things people would put on their bucket list are the things I would put on there too. For instance, to fly a fighter jet, I would love to be in a fighter jet. I wouldn’t expect to fly it myself, but I’d love to be sitting in the copilot set-up with the joy stick so I could handle the jet a bit too. Formula One is also something I’m really into and I’d love to drive a Formula One car, that would definitely be on my bucket list also. The only problem for me would be my lack of time, it would be really hard for me to fit stuff like this into my schedule while I’m still racing.”
5. AKSEL LEADS A SUPRISINGLY NORMAL LIFE - FOR A GUY WHO LIVES OUT OF A SUITCASE FOR 300-PLUS DAYS A YEAR....
“I’m pretty sure that anyone who knows me would say that I live a surprisingly normal life, even with all the crazy travel that goes along with my job. I don’t have that much time to be normal because I’m always moving around, and even when I’m not working I’m travelling with a girlfriend (Julia Mancuso) who lives in Hawaii, but still I live a pretty normal life and it’s something that I’m proud of.”
“For example, people say the average family in Norway has a station wagon and a cabin in the mountains, 2.3 children, golden retriever, etc...I like that idea, I like the idea of normal, but you can be normal and have a lot of cool life experiences at the same time, which is what I’m trying to do. ‘Normal’ definitely doesn’t have to be boring.”