Swedish ski cross legend Lars Lewen retires
After a 12 year World Cup career that included 70 starts, 10 podiums, and five victories, Swedish ski cross legend Lars Lewen has retired from competition.
While Lewen had known before it started that the 2013/14 Audi ski cross World Cup season would be his last, not everything went according to plan in his last tour. First, a tough start to the season saw him on the outside looking in when it came time to fill quotas for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Then, two weeks ago at his planned final event at home in Are, Sweden, he twisted his ankle in the parking lot after a training session and was unable to compete.
However, despite some unfortunate luck in this final season, Lewen walks away from the World Cup as the most decorated, and most important, Swedish ski cross athlete of all time, paving the way for the likes of 2013/14 ski cross crystal globe winner Victor Oehling Norberg and fifth place finisher at Sochi 2014 Sandra Naeslund.
One of the true gentlemen of the tour, Lars Lewen will be missed. Luckily, we recently had the chance to speak with him about his career, his legacy, and what life after racing holds for him.
FIS - First off, what happened to your foot before the race in Are?
LL - After the training session I was just walking with my skis and all my stuff and I didn't see there was a huge hole in the road. I set my foot down in that and it just cracked. It's been a tough season. It was tough when it didn't go as I planned and when I didn't get to go to the Olympics. And then I wanted to come to Are and finish my career strongly but, you know, stuff happens.
FIS – Looking back, what are some your fondest memories of you time in ski cross?
LL - My first X Games victory in '03, that was maybe the best feeling I ever had. And the one in 2006 was good too. Those two X Games victories and a couple of my World Cup podiums there stand out.
The World Cup was really good for me, I had some good results there, but I maybe had even better results before, when it was the Crossmax series. I won the Crossmax series overall title three years in a row from '03 to '05. Those were some really good years.
FIS – Your best World Cup season was in 2007/08, when you took three victories in a row and finished second in the ski cross overall. What do you remember about that season?
LL - 2008 was a great season. I had some good results, and then went to X Games and had a huge crash there and had a pretty bad concussion. I had to rest for four weeks, just riding the bike, and then I came back and I was thinking maybe I should be a little bit afraid. But instead I was much more focused than before and hungry to get results because I had been away for four weeks. So I got a fifth place and then I won three races in a row. It was a pretty nice feeling.
FIS – Looking at the team you're leaving, you've got (crystal globe winner) Victor Oehling Norberg here, you've got 17 year old Sandra Naeslund scoring fifth place in Sochi and getting on the podium twice this season – it must be nice seeing how strong Swedish ski cross is and knowing you helped it get to this point.
LL - It's a great feeling for me leaving the team and seeing the young skiers coming up, coming on to the team and doing it so well. For Sweden, we've always been in the top tier of ski cross since the beginning, and it's cool we have some young guys coming up now. It's great.
FIS – So, what's next for you?
LL – I'm going to do some work with the Swedish Olympic Committee for the coming year. We're working on a project called “Olympic Day” where we try to get kids from between 7-12 years old and get them to try new sports and discover new sports. I've been asked about maybe becoming a trainer, but right now I can't do that. Maybe I'll come in and do some camps or stuff like that, but I don't want to become a coach just yet. I want to spend some more time at home and then maybe see how I feel about that (coaching). I want to try a different life for a while (laughing). I'm a little bit tired of travelling around with the skis and stuff. I've been doing it for such a long time.
Lars Lewen's career World Cup stats can be found HERE
More information on Sweden's Olympic Day can be found HERE