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SKI

Norway ski pioneer Stein Eriksen dies at 88

Stein Eriksen, a Norwegian credited as the founder of modern skiing, died on Sunday at his home in Utah, the ski resort he was long associated with said. He was 88.

Norway ski pioneer Stein Eriksen dies at 88
Stein Eriksen at the Oslo Winter Olympics in 1952. Photo: NTB Scanpix

Eriksen, a well-known figure in the skiing community, rose to fame winning gold and silver in the giant slalom and slalom at the 1952 Oslo Winter Olympics.

He then went on to win three gold medals at the 1954 World Championships in Sweden, “making him the first alpine skier to win the world championship triple gold,'” the Deer Valley Resort said in a statement.

Eriksen's status “was enhanced by his spectacular forward somersault…..credited as the forerunner of the inverted aerials performed by freestyle skiers today,” Deer Valley said.

Eriksen had been living in the United States for the last six decades, including stints in ski-related ventures or as an instructor in Colorado, California, Michigan and Vermont.

He had been at the upscale Deer Valley ski resort since it opened in 1981.

“Stein has been an integral part of the Deer Valley family since the resort's inception and his presence on the mountain will be profoundly missed,” said Bob Wheaton, the current head of the resort located just outside Park City, Utah.

Eriksen's awards and honors include Norway's Knight First Class honor, the Pioneer Award from the Intermountain Ski Areas Association, and a place in the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame and the Professional Ski Instructors of America Hall of Fame.

Eriksen is survived by his wife of 35 years, Francoise, a son, three daughters and five grandchildren, though was preceded in death by son Stein junior.

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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.”