2010 Olympic champion's triumphant return after injury
Back-to-back wins at Canadian course equal record
Injured in kickabout with teammates in October 2014
You would never know Aksel Lund Svindal had spent a year recovering from a kickabout gone wrong.
The Norwegian, an Olympic champion in 2010, won back-to-back World Cup events in Canada this weekend – after missing almost every race for 12 months.
Svindal tore the Achilles tendon in his left leg while kicking a ball around with teammates in October 2014. He skipped the full World Cup season as a result, only competing in February’s World Championships – where he failed to win a medal.
But Svindal is back with a bang, winning Saturday’s opening men’s downhill race of the World Cup season in Lake Louise, Alberta. He beat Italy’s Peter Fill by just a hundredth of a second.
The 32-year-old followed that with super-G victory on Sunday.
“Lake Louise has been good to me,” said Svindal after Saturday’s downhill win, which came 10 years and a day after his first career World Cup gold – on the same slopes.
“After being away from the World Cup for a year and a half, this is a good place for me to start.”
The two victories tie skiing’s record for the number of men’s World Cup wins at the same venue. Svindal has now won eight times at Lake Louise in all.
Back in Norway, experts like Atle Skardal – a two-time world champion who used to coach the Norwegian national team – hailed Svindal as an “exceptional performer in a class of his own”.
Svindal, former boyfriend of US star skier Julia Mancuso, has super-G gold from the Vancouver Olympics and five world titles to his name.
During training for this weekend’s races, he tweeted: “Haven’t been in a real starting gate for a while. Feels good!”
American skier Travis Ganong, 27, picked up his third career World Cup podium on Saturday, finishing behind Svindal and Fill.
“I’m always far behind here in Lake Louise – it’s a flatter hill and I struggle with it, because I’m a little smaller,” said Ganong, who recovered from a training crash to take part.
“I’m really happy to figure out how to be fast here, and the snow is perfect this year, so I was able to push hard.”
Ganong tied for fourth in Sunday’s super-G.
The men’s World Cup circuit now moves to Ganong’s home state, Colorado, for downhill, super-G and giant slalom races in Beaver Creek.