Kjetil Jansrud decides his last alpine race should be at Kvitfjell
Home, sweet home
Alpinist Kjetil Jansrud, 36, made a symbolic end to his career when he skied down the slope to enormous cheers in Kvitfjell ski resort in Norway on March 5 during the FIS Alpine World Cup. He wanted to say goodbye properly and decided not to compete in the super-G on March 6, but end with the downhill.
With around 10,000 spectators and Kvitfjell in great shape, the setting was the best around Jansrud’s farewell to the sport he has represented for a long time. It was 10 years since he took his first of a total of 11 podium places at home.
On March 6, he was done, but then the other alpinists got the pleasure of taking over the “Jansrud jump.” The jump between Russispranget and Elgtraversen in the Kvitfjell trail was named after the Vinstra alpinist after Saturday’s race, after his special style.
It was marked by race leader Ole Johan Bjørge, who nailed a sign to the ground.
“Many thanks to all of you who are icy cold now and who have been waiting for me all day,” Jansrud said to the audience in the target area.
On March 5, he did not go as fast as he had in the past at his best. Jansrud lost some time down and finished 3.46 seconds behind the lead. He finished in 52nd place.
Just after Jansrud reached the finish line, the organizer took a break so that Jansrud could be properly honored. “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” a famous supporter song for Jansrud’s favorite soccer team, Liverpool, resounded over the facility. The alpine veteran bent down and kissed the snow in the finish line area and kissed his skis before he was greeted with flowers and hugs. He began to shed tears.
He took his first World Cup podium place in Adelboden, Switzerland, in 2009. Since then, he has been on the podium 54 more times. He has won 23 races, seven of them in Kvitfjell, 13 of the triumphs were in super-G, and eight were in downhill. Jansrud can look back on a career that has given him five Olympic participations. Jansrud earned an Olympic gold in the super-G in Sochi, Russia, in 2014. He also has two Olympic silver medals, in giant slalom in 2010 in Vancouver, Canada, and downhill in 2018 in Pyeongchang, Korea, as well as two bronze medals (downhill, 2014, super-G, 2018). In the world championships, Jansrud has one gold and two silver. The gold came in downhill in 2019, the silvers in Combined in 2015 and super-G in 2017.
That he was able to ski at all in the finale was amazing, having suffered a serious knee injury at Beaver Creek, Colo., Dec. 3. At this year’s Beijing Olympics, he came in as a big surprise, as he expected surgery, and it was estimated he would be on the sidelines six to nine months. The operation was postponed, and the ligaments in his knee healed enough for him to be ready for the Olympics.
His father, Jan Ingvald Jansrud, thought it was a sensible time to stop competing.
“Now he has a great [partner] and a daughter [who is 18 months old],” he told NTB. “Then, I think it’s time to give in, to give her a good upbringing and follow-up. So, it’s a good time. He has a great career behind him, and it had to end sooner or later.”
Drops last day
Teammate Aleksander Aamodt Kilde was touched to realize that it is the end for Jansrud.
“It is a legend that gives itself up today, and it is fantastic for me to be a part of this,” Kilde told NTB after completing his race. “I hope that Kvitfjell just carries him down the trail, no matter how it goes. He deserves all possible honors, and he should be praised today, that is for sure.”
“We thank one of the biggest we have ever had. Everyone likes Kjetil,” said sports manager Claus Ryste.
Now it’s over for Jansrud. There was a super-G race in Kvitfjell on March 6, but March 5 was a better way to go, according to Jansrud. It is a demanding discipline for the knee that is not quite where it should be.
“[March 6] is departure day for most who are here by national teams and not just those who come to watch,” Jansrud explained. “If I have the opportunity to thank my competitors and those I have ridden with for many years, [March 5] is a great way to do it. You can meet at the hotel in the evening and things like that.”
There was a large reception at Kvitfjell following the race.
Edited by Michael Kleiner
This article originally appeared in the April 1, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.