Kristoffersen third in Beaver Creek
The Norwegian downhill skier earns 12th World Cup podium on an innovative set of skis
Norwegian American Weekly
At the 2015 FIS Ski World Cup races in Beaver Creek on December 6, Henrik Kristoffersen surprised himself with a spot on the podium. After the first round of the giant slalom, the 21-year-old Norwegian alpine ski racer sat in fourth place, but an impressive second run earned him third place by a hundredth of a second. This position secured his 12th World Cup podium—eight in slalom and four in giant slalom.
“In the first round I had a bit left, but in the second half I felt that I pushed all the way. I probably could have skied a little faster, but overall I’m very happy,” said Kristoffersen to VG.
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher was the clear winner, coming in almost a second ahead of Frenchman Victor Muffat-Jeandet in second place. Kristoffersen’s time of 2:33.89 was 1.31 behind the Austrian and just .01 ahead of Swedish Andre Myhrer in fourth.
“It was an exciting race, especially between Myhrer and me; we are only +0.01 apart—that’s tight! It’s not a hill that suits me very well, it’s pretty flat, so I’m very happy with my third place today,” said Kristoffersen.
Of the champion, he says: “He’s a great athlete. He is the man I want to beat, and I have enormous respect for what he does.”
Kristoffersen admits that he didn’t expect to end up on the podium in Beaver Creek. One of the challenges with the American event is the high elevation, he says, noting that the run starts at 3,100 meters above sea level. While some athletes receive oxygen before the start, the practice is banned in Norwegian sports and therefore Kristoffersen had to make do without.
He wasn’t the only Norwegian to make it to the final round, though. While Aksel Lund Svindal was out with an illness and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde was eliminated in the first run, Leif Kristian Haugen finished 12th, Kjetil Jansrud 15th, and Rasmus Windingstad ended up in 29th place for his first ever World Cup points.
“The U.S. round has been very good. Today we have three men in the top 15 and another one taking points,” said the satisfied Alpine Skiing Sports Director, Claus Ryste, to NTB.
In addition to coverage of Kristoffersen’s success in Beaver Creek, there’s been a lot of media attention focused on the skis he used, which have a large rod atop each ski.
The Norwegian is trying to keep the details of the innovation a secret though, immediately packing the skis away after finishing the race.
When NRK asked him about the skis, he said: “It is something new, yes. But I won’t talk about the skis today—I’m not allowed to,” and asked them not to film them.
Coach Christian Mitter did make some comments on the need to explore innovative equipment as a way to make Norway more competitive in the international scene, however.
“We said we should be open to making changes on anything from shoes to skis to the plate and everything, leave no stone unturned, be open and offensive. They found something new, and maybe it works,” he said.
NRK ski expert and Norway’s most decorated alpine ski racer Kjetil André Aamodt explained that the rods on the skis can have two positive effects: “The rods will make it more stable and calm, and in addition give you more power … It can have a trampoline effect out of the turn.”
He’s adds that it will be a while until it is clear if the new equipment actually gives Kristoffersen an advantage, but he commends him for taking the risk.
“Hundredths of a second can make the difference. You need to constantly be looking for better equipment. So it’s good that he dares and is not afraid to try new things,” says Aamodt.
As the World Cup competition progresses, keep an eye on Kristoffersen—and his skis.
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 18, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.