Robert Johansson: Olympic champion after difficult times
Robert Johansson - Picture © Tadeusz Mieczynski

This man has become a brand. Since last winter, he is one of the world's best ski jumpers, his friendly personality and his cool look made him into an icon. He is "The Mustache" - Norway's Robert Johansson.

Robert Johansson is among the elite group of the world's best ski jumpers.
Last winter he was fifth in the overall World Cup, won three Olympic medals in Korea and took his first win in the World Cup on the Monsterbakken in Vikersund. And whoever wins in Vikersund is not only a winner, who wins in Vikersund is a champion.

“I noticed that I was tougher than the others”

Johansson is from Lillehammer. In 1994, Jens Weissflog, Espen Bredesen and the German team, with Hansjoerg Jaekle, Christof Duffner, Dieter Thoma and Jens Weissflog, won Olympic gold in his hometown. Robert Johansson was three years old back then.

But Ski Jumping already had a long tradition in the Johansson family way before the 1994 Olympic Winter Games.

"My father and grandfather were also jumping. I started on the Pinnikbakken in Lillehammer when I was five. At age 12, I noticed that I was a bit tougher than the others. Ski Jumping was fascinating to me right from the beginning, it was always a lot of fun for me. And today? Today it's a dream that I can do what I enjoy the most", says the always friendly Robert Johansson.

Picture © Tadeusz Mieczynski

Tough times - "I was down and felt empty"
The 28-year-old, who established himself among the world's best last winter, has a long and rocky road behind him. So rocky, that Johansson almost ended his Ski Jumping career a couple of years ago after suffering many setbacks. He was already close to the top in 2012, then he sustained a serious ankle injury and lost the feeling in his foot. Then there were two illnesses, the winter was over, the good shape was gone and so was the motivation. "This was a horrible winter, it was really tough. It's hard to be an athlete and have the feeling that you will not be able to achieve what you really want. It's terrible when you are thinking about giving up your big dream. I thought about it a lot and was close to giving up. During that period I was really down and felt totally empty. That was the turning point. I realized that I have to make changes and I changed everything. The nutrition, the sleep, the training, the way of thinking, my entire life."

Breakthrough at the Olympics
Johansson had his big breakthrough last winter. Two bronze medals in the individual events and gold in the team competition at the Olympic Games in PyeongChang. "This was definitely the highlight of my career so far." In PyeongChang it went really well for Robert Johansson right from the start. "When I arrived in PyeongChang I knew I was in top shape. I travelled to the Olympics with a lot of self-confidence and I had the feeling that I could be successful there. I was totally relaxed and could focus on what matters most: Ski Jumping. And so I could really enjoy my first Olympic Games. It's incredible that I could take home three medals, such a result at my first Olympics. A childhood dream came true and then you are really proud of yourself."

With the medals came the self-confidence
"I don't look at the medals a lot when I'm alone, but many friends and acquaintances want to see them and then it's cool to show them. The success at the Olympics is a big motivation for me to get better and achieve even more. Now I have a lot more self-confidence during the day-to-day work", says Johansson.

Picture © Tadeusz Mieczynski

High goals for the future
Now It's all about achieving good results in the upcoming season. "My goal is to be among the best in the World Championships in Seefeld and I hope I will be able to fight for the medals there. It's a big goal to win an individual medal at the WSC. I also want to show good performances in the mixed-team and the team event", says the 28-year-old.

"But I have set high goals for myself for the entire season. There are not only the highlights like the 4-Hills-Tournament and the RAW AIR, but there's also the overall World Cup. It's a dream to win the big crystal globe and I'll give my all to make that happen."

The mustache is an important part of me
The private life has also changed for the man with the mustache: "The everyday life is still the same, with training, resting and sleeping, but more people know me now and the interest is a lot higher. The mustache makes it easy for the people to recognize me. They start talking to me in stores and I think it's nice that they recognize me also without the helmet and the goggles. I get a lot of positive feedback. It's nice when somebody wants to talk to me and asks me if I'm ready for the new season."

The mustache will not be removed soon. "It became a big and important part of me. I have it for more than two years now and I can't even remember what I look like without it", Johansson jokes. 

Strong Viking team
The new season starts in less than two weeks. After the Norwegian national championships on November 10th and 11th, it's time for the season opener in Wisla. "I'm really glad that I can be a part of the Norwegian national team. We are a tight group. We are happy when another one of us is successful, that's what makes us strong", Johansson concludes.