Aksel Lund svindal stares at the laptop in front of him and kneads the fingers of his rough hand under the table. The 1.90 meter tall skier from norway skis his last race on saturday – the downhill at the world championships in are – and his colleagues bid him farewell.
Austrians matthias mayer and hannes reichelt, his norwegian friend kjetil jansrud, americans steven nyman and ted ligety – they all have a few friendly and funny words to say in a video about the hun from near oslo. Svindal is agitated and seems to briefly forget the people watching him. "We will miss him," says jansrud.
Svindal is not only one of the most successful athletes in history, but also a friendly contemporary with good manners and an impressive eloquence in three languages. "His best characteristic is that he makes his environment better," says norway's head coach, austrian christian mitter, about the captain of his attacking vikings. "As a teammate he is irreplaceable."
Apart from the downhill on the streif in kitzbuhel, svindal has won everything in his career and experienced almost everything that has meaning in his sport. He was world champion five times, olympic champion twice, won the overall world cup twice and almost died after a fall on the bird of prey slope in beaver creek in 2007. In addition, there are other injuries to his face, his achilles tendon and the torn cruciate ligaments, the late effects of which are now causing him to say goodbye. But a final race is a premiere for him, too. "I have no idea how it will feel. Womogly I'm really going to be very nervous," he says.
All the emotions and the many friends from norway should not distract from the essentials: it's all about medals. And svindal has the confidence to win his 13th medal on the areskutan. Medal on the areskutan in a major event. In contrast to his friend lindsey vonn, who will say goodbye to her career in the downhill on sunday, svindal's chances are also good.
Should he on saturday (12.30 o'clock/ARD and eurosport) even win gold, he would be only the second skier to also become world champion in the downhill in the year after winning the olympics. So far, only toni sailer from austria succeeded in doing this in 1958.
It would be a further proof of his grossness, which most of his competitors, however, measure mainly by his manner. "He is a role model," says german manuel schmid. "I can learn a lot from him."The two other german downhill racers in sweden, dominik schwaiger and kitzbuhel winner josef ferstl, have no bad words to say about the man who has long planned and secured his professional future with stakes in several companies and a label for fair and ecologically produced fashion.
Svindal, on the other hand, will be surprised by his feelings after the last crossing of the finish line. From the joy or the anger about the placement. And the emotions after the last race. "When they come, it's a very strong signal. I don't know if they're locked in my office, but they don't come that often. When they go off, I'll let them fall in love," says the norwegian about possible trannies.