Alpine skiing: Aleksander Aamodt Kilde as leader of the sports nation Norway

“If I weren’t a skier,” says Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, “then I’d be a soccer player – for sure!” Judging from his physique, he probably resembled his compatriot Erling Haaland: powerful and assertive. However, the 90-kilo powerhouse does not accept the comparison: “If I were a guy like Haaland, I wouldn’t be sitting here,” he joked at Atomic Media Day. But even without the ball, Kilde’s sports career developed rapidly. And the steeper it went downhill on alpine skis, the steeper it went uphill with his track record.

Kilde is a speed specialist. The boy from the “Lommedalens sports team” has 13 World Cup victories in his résumé, all in downhill and super-G. Last winter he won both crystal globes as the best of the season. And the 30-year-old is now starting the new session of the shooting drivers with the corresponding aspiration, which is now beginning in Lake Louise (Canada) after the climate-related cancellation of the overture planned for the end of October in Zermatt.

A descent on Friday (8.30 p.m. at Eurosport) is to be followed by two Super-Gs at the weekend and Kilde leaves no doubt about his claim: “My goal is to win races.” in the broken Corona winter of 2020. In 2021, a cruciate ligament rupture ruined all his chances. Last season he finished second – albeit with a certain distance to the Swiss all-rounder Marco Odermatt.

Good work bears brilliant fruit

Despite all his ambition and striving for success, Kilde is basically happy to be able to shape his life as a skier at all. “There are many people in Norway who give you the opportunity to do whatever you want to do,” he says. “We’re really privileged,” says Kilde.

At the two most recent Winter Olympics, the Norwegian team was the most successful nation ahead of Germany – even though the country has a population of just 5.5 million. “We were born with skis on our feet” is a common bon mot between Oslo and the North Cape. And they have an intact club system with more than a thousand ski clubs in the most remote provinces, where volunteer trainers work around five million hours a year.

The reward for the work: 32 of Norway’s 37 medals in Beijing, including 15 of 16 gold medals, were won on skis – from biathlon to cross-country skiing to freestyle. It was already similar in Pyeongchang. Kilde himself contributed two of the four alpine medals, silver in the combined and bronze in the super-G.

Norway is not only successful in winter

But Norwegian successes do not only impress the sports world in winter. Track and field athlete Karsten Warholm has won five titles in the 400-meter hurdles since 2017, twice breaking the world record. Middle-distance Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen recently triumphed over 1500 and 5000 meters at the European Championships in Munich. In golf, Viktor Hovland shakes up the scene, in tennis, 23-year-old Casper Ruud storms into the final of the ATP World Championship. And in beach volleyball, Anders Mol and Christian Sörum have been the measure of the game for years

“It must be the special water,” Kilde jokes about the overall balance. When asked if it was more the oil than the lubricant, he confesses: “Good point, very good point – maybe it’s more about the oil than the water.” The Norwegian state oil fund has a volume of around 800 billion euros – more than 160,000 euros per inhabitant. The gross domestic product in 2020 was 67,325 euros, a good 40 percent above the EU average – and also far above that in Germany (46,216).

Mikaela Shiffrin and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde during an awards ceremony in July 2022 in Los Angeles

Mikaela Shiffrin and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde during an awards ceremony in July 2022 in Los Angeles

Image: AP

“But we also use the opportunities,” emphasizes Kilde and makes it clear that success does not only depend on external conditions: “You always have the decision in life what you make of it.” In order to implement his skills in the best possible way, he started this summer already in August with glacier training in Norway, then moved on to Chile and finally trained with his girlfriend Mikaela Shiffrin in the Alps. He has long since relocated to Austria in order to be able to follow his passion, which has become his profession.

“Being an athlete is hard work”

Kilde’s role models are legendary: The now 51-year-old Lasse Kjus (16 medals at major events) and Kjetil Andre Aamodt (five-time world champion, four-time Olympic champion) unnerved the numerically in the 1990s and 2000s as “Vikings” with their two-man teams clearly superior Austrians and Swiss. Later, Aksel Lund Svindal (39) and Kjetil Jansrud (37) drove to the top of the world as competing friends, now Kilde is the leader – and new youngsters have long been pushing: Lucas Braathen and Atle Lie McGrath (both 22) are considered to be future winners – indeed in the technical disciplines.

Despite all the joy, Kilde emphasizes: “Being an athlete is hard work”. Of course you have the oil and therefore the prosperity. His homeland of Bærum is considered to be one of Norway’s wealthiest and most exclusive communities. “But the spirit, the passion and the motivation for the sport come on top.”

The only thing missing for sporting happiness would have been Norway’s participation in the current World Cup. A Kilde next to Haaland in the storm would have done well in the qualification. On the other hand, in Oslo serious consideration was given to boycotting the World Cup in Qatar – because the Norwegians try to be morally world class despite all their successes.

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