Felix Monsén trains with Norwegians

A super Swede is back on his skis again

Monsén ski

Photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB
Felix Monsén in action at the alpine skiing men’s combined at the 2021 World Cup in Cortina, Italy.

Michael Kleiner
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

It was Dec. 16, 2021, at Val Gardena-Groeden, Italy. Sweden’s Felix Monsén had a top 15 finish at Lake Louise, Canada, in the downhill on Nov. 27, two silvers in the 2020-2021 season. In the first training run of the downhill, he recorded the second best time, out-clocking Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde by 0.28. Maybe, this was going to be his season.

In the second training run, Monsén was skiing fast. On a downhill near the descent, he skied to the right. It looked like he was close to the ground. The right ski was spread out. As he bent left, he fell and slid to the right, stopping right before the boundary gate. A helicopter airlifted him to a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria.

Diagnosis: broken patellar tendon; anterior cruciate ligament fallen off; outer meniscus damaged.

The following day, he told Sportbladet: “I guess it was very unlucky how I landed and how I put pressure on the ski. If I had moved the ski an inch differently, it probably wouldn’t have happened.

“I immediately felt that something was broken. It was mainly such sick pain. It hurt so much. But then your thoughts start to move quickly, with the season, no Olympics. There’s a lot of stuff that starts spinning and gets heavy. You have to take care of the surgery but the doctor said nine months. Hopefully, I can come back next season.”

Monsén, who will be 29 on Nov. 6, hasn’t skied competitively since that tragic day, more than a year-and-a-half ago. At the time, he couldn’t have imagined Norway would play a role in his rehabilitation.

Monsén

Photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB
Felix Monsén celebrated a victory in the men’s alpine skiing Super-G at the 2021 World Cup in Cortina, Italy. It seemed like it would be his year, but later he was injured at Val Gardena-Groeden, Italy.

In a unique cooperative agreement, Sweden sent Monsén to Norway, where he is training with the Norwegian “boys,” helping to reacclimate himself to the slopes.  He skied in the spring.

As the only Swedish speed racer, the alternative was to train solo.

On the weekend, he can wear the yellow and blue of Sweden.

“This is the perfect solution for me,” said Monsén in a press release. “Instead of forming a one-man team in Sweden, I get the opportunity to match the skiing in training against the extreme world elite and become part of the Norwegian speed team, but in Swedish clothes,”

The purpose is to maximize resources. The goal is the 2026 Olympics in Cortina, Italy. However, the arrangement will be evaluated after each season. For now, everybody is satisfied.

“The fact that we managed to find a solution for Felix together with the Norwegians will be a very good and exciting solution for the future,” said Fredrik Kingstad, Sweden’s alpine men’s manager on skidor.com, website of the Swedish alpine team.

“The composition of the team was perfect for a new collaboration and we look forward to seeing the results, ” Kingstad added.

There will be several advantages for Monsén.

First, he’s not training with average skiers. Over the last three years, Norway has secured 30 podiums in Super-G and downhill, the speed races. Last year, Kilde, 31, had 13 podiums—medaling in each World Cup event—six gold medals in the downhill (ranking first) and two in the Super G (second) and finished second in the overall World Cup standings.

Henrik Kristoffersen, 29, specializes in the slalom and giant slalom. He finished third in the overall standings in 2022-23, first in the slalom, second in GS. Certainly, he is someone Monsén can learn from. The 23-year-old Lucas Braathen finished eighth overall last year, second in slalom.

And then there’s a social aspect.

“Being part of a team is important for both motivation and sparring, but also for having fun outside of training,” said Monsén. “I know the guys from before, which makes this a great setup for me.”

Monsén and his training assistant Ziga Rosina will further benefit by communicating with coaches and physiotherapists.

“To be able to compete against the very best in the speed disciplines, a lot of resources are required,” said Claus Ryste, alpine sports manager at the Norwegian Skiing Association on skidor.com.

“The big nations have a competitive advantage against us smaller nations. I think it is important that you are solution-oriented and aggressive in your thinking. The collaboration is a solution that is good for both parties. We look forward to having Felix with us at gatherings and competitions in the future,” Ryste said.

This article originally appeared in the November 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Michael Kleiner

Michael Kleiner, business and sports editor, has more than three decades of experience as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. He has operated his own PR and web design business for small businesses, authors and community organizations in Philadelphia since 1999. Not of Norwegian descent, he lived in Norway for a year with his family at age 11 and has returned as an adult. He is the author of a memoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, and a member of NorCham Philadelphia. Visit Kleinerprweb.com; beyondthecold.com.