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SKIING

Norwegian ski champ in freak soccer injury

Ski star Aksel Lund Svindal may miss the entire World Cup season after getting a serious injury while playing a game of football with his teammates at the weekend.

Norwegian ski champ in freak soccer injury
Aksel Lund Svindal. Photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix

The accident happened during a training session in Sölden on Saturday afternoon and Svidnal is confirmed as suffering a torn Achilles tendon.

Svindal was in training in Sölden to prepare himself for next weekend's skiing World Cup which opens with the slalom competition. He was one of six Norwegian male alpinists set to compete.

It was the Achilles tendon in his left leg that ruptured, and the ski champion was immediately taken to hospital in Innsbruck, 100km away, and received immediate surgery.
 
Svindal is unsure how long he will be out of action, but he is likely to miss the whole World Cup season.
 
The 31-year-old said in a statement via the Norwegian Ski Federation: “We had been on a short jogging trip in Sölden together with the whole team and finished it off with some ball play. I suddenly felt a jolt in my leg and I understood right away what was wrong. S*** happens.”
 
“We went quickly to the hospital in Innsbruck. There I received fast and super service and the conclusion was that my Achilles tendon had ruptured. I was operated on less than an hour later,” he added.
 
Svindal was the last Norwegian alpinist to win the season opening in Sölden. He won on the Rettenbach glacier in 2007 and was one of the favourites at that time. Norwegian ski fans now have to put their trust in Kjetil Jansrud and Leif Kristian Haugen.
 
Svindal said from his sickbed in Innsbruck: “It is a boring injury and extremely bad timing just as the season is about to start. But it has happened now, so I can now only look ahead. Noone knows exactly how long the recovery will take, but I expect it to take a while.”
 
He added: “I’m well looked after and will stay in Austria for a while longer before I go to Oslo to make a plan further with the Olympia team.”

Marc Jacob Strauss, team physician for the alpine skiers, advised Svindal must now train himself carefully over the next weeks and will most probably not be able to use his skis for the next three to four months.

Ski chief Claus Ryste said to NTB: “It's a very serious injury Aksel has, and according to all past experience we know, this will take time to heal. I therefore feel quite certain he will not take part in the World Cup this season.”

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NORWAY

PROFILE: Norway’s ‘complete competitor’ Aksel Lund Svindal

Norwegian colossus Aksel Lund Svindal will go down in the annals of alpine skiing as one of the very best after claiming world silver in his farewell downhill race on Saturday.

PROFILE: Norway's 'complete competitor' Aksel Lund Svindal
Aksel Lund Svindal celebrates third place in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images/AFP Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images North America / AFP
Coming in just two-hundredths of a second behind teammate and close friend Kjetil Jansrud was the perfect send-off for the 36-year-old Svindal.
 
Svindal has been one of the stars of the ski circuit with 11 titles (overall-2, downhill-2, superG-5, giant slalom-1, combined-1), 36 victories (14 downhill, 17 super-G, 4 giant slalom, 1 combined) and 80 podiums in 17 
seasons on the World Cup.
   
In addition to being a two-time overall World Cup champion (2007, 2009), he is also a five-time world champion in downhill, giant slalom and super combined, and won Olympic golds in the downhill (2018) and super-G (2010).
   
Standing 1.89m (6'2″) tall, Svindal said he was prepared for the next stage of his life.
   
“I think I'll miss it not in a sad way, in a way that is 'That was awesome',” he said. “But even good things come to an end and you can think back at all the good memories.”
   
The ever-modest and affable Svindal, be it speaking in his native Norwegian or fluent English or German, pinpointed respect as the one thing he wanted to take with him from skiing.
   
“This is an awesome sport, not just the racing part, but the respect between the racers,” he said. “There's a lot of things this sport can be really proud of and I'm part of that sport so that's something I want to try and take with me into other things I do. I hope I contributed on that side in the sport as well.”
 
 'Amazing career'
 
Norwegian teammate and long-time World Cup 'Attacking Viking' confidant Jansrud was full of praise for Svindal.
   
“There are not many people who get to retire with such an amazing career,” he said.
   
Svindal made his World Cup debut in 2002 and went on to become the oldest Olympic alpine ski gold medallist when he swept to victory in the 2018 Olympic downhill in Pyeongchang.
   
In between, many kilometres of downhill skiing were covered by the racer credited as an outstanding role model and driving force behind the Norwegian team's winning philosophy of keeping it simple.
   
Svindal retires as one of the most decorated skiers ever, having being crowned world champion five times, twice picking up the crystal globe for best overall skier, as well as winning a medal of each colour at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
   
He is a complete competitor who has also had to overcome some horrific injuries, none less so than when he crashed in Beaver Creek in 2007. He also sat out the 2015 season and most of 2016 because of injuries.
   
But Svindal is known for his supreme physical conditioning, and each time he bounced back.
 
US ski star Lindsey Vonn, who ironically races her final downhill on Sunday, has forged a deep friendship with Svindal, often training together.
   
“When athletes in the past have retired, I've been the same way, 'No, you can do it, keep going, anything is possible',” she said. “But as an athlete, when you get to that point, you just know in your gut that it's time.
   
“Aksel is in the same position as I am. We are both kind of accepting where we are at the moment and it's just nice to be able to talk to someone who is going through the same thing as I am at the exact same time.”