Can Oehling Norberg do it again?

20 February 2014 07:37
Swedish rocket Oehling Norberg hopes to repeat his last year's Sochi win
Swedish rocket Oehling Norberg hopes to repeat his last year's Sochi win -
GEPA Pictures

Go down the list of potential contenders come competition time for men's ski cross at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, and just about any of them will tell you that the Sochi 2014 course is one that plays into their favour.

Big and technical at the same time, with large jumps leading into complex rhythm sections, and boasting a couple of features not seen anywhere on the world cup tour, the Sochi 2014 course is the type all of the men slated to compete on Thursday would like to think is just the type they were made to ski.

But take a scroll through the results of the last two world cup seasons you will find only one name who has the podiums to back up such a claim. It's Victor Oehling Norberg (SWE), and you've probably never heard of him.

23 years old with just 32 world cup starts under his belt, Oehling Norberg was a consistent 20th-60th place finisher through his first two-and-a-half season on tour.

A few races into 2012/13 he started to show some signs of improvement, and he soon scored his first podium, a third in Italy. Then, three races later, he banked another third in Germany.

However, it wasn't until the next race that the rest of the world's best ski cross athletes were forced to sit up and take notice, as Oehling Norbergpicked the highest-profile world cup race of the year to claim his first victory - the Olympic Games test event world cup on the prototype course for Sochi 2014.

To date, last February's Sochi race remains the lone victory on Oehling Norberg's resume, though he does have four podiums since then, including three this season to lead the world cup.

Notable in these results is that all three of his podiums in 2013/14 have come on the same course in Val Thorens, a course that is the biggest, fastest, and most technical of any seen this season, aside from the Sochi 2014 venue.

Oehling Norberg is understated to the point of seeming silent at times, but that quietness belies one of the most cooly confident approaches of any athlete in the field. When asked about his chances in light of his results over the past two seasons, he's aware that his skiing puts him in a good position to challenge for gold on Thursday.

"The course is really big, but I really like these big courses," he smiled from the finish area following a training session earlier this week, "It's good for me. The jumps are big but I'm good at absorbing, so I don't mind going fast into them. I think it's going to be good. I'm confident. It's going to be a fun race."

Ski cross is easily the most unpredictable of any freestyle event, and we are in the midst of a world cup season in which six different men have scored victories and 13 different athletes have been on the podium in the seven races held thus far.

Alex Fiva (SUI), David Duncan (CAN), Daniel Bohnacker (GER), Vancouver 2010 silver medallist Andreas Matt (AUT) and others all have multiple podiums this season.

Only one athlete has a previous win on the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park course though, and his name is VictorOehling Norberg.

Qualifiers start on Feb 20 11:45 AM local time.