The Attacking Vikings have been on fire this season. Led by superstar Aksel Lund Svindal, the small Norwegian men’s team has scored a whopping 17 World Cup wins – that’s more than all the other nations put together.
After the veteran Svindal injured his knee in a Kitzbühel downhill crash, the spotlight is on the 21-year-old youngster Henrik Kristoffersen who has dominated the season’s slalom races. This kid is one to keep an eye on, so we decided to put together a list of things you might not have known about him.
1. Henrik goes by the nickname Wild Child
Henrik grew up being called the ‘Wild Child.’ As a kid, he was really wild, both at home and in school. Apparently he could not sit still and had a lot of energy. He’d often hurt himself doing wild things, which is why his mates named him Wild Child when he was about 12 years old.
But Henrik claims he has matured and calmed down so that the wild things he does nowadays are on the snow. In fact, the wildest thing he can imagine is an Olympic gold medal, and “the more gold and victories, the wilder it gets.”
2. Henrik is like Alberto Tomba, and isn’t!
With Henrik’s amazing run of six slalom victories this season, the young Norwegian has already matched the legendary Italian poster boy and skiing megastar Alberto Tomba, who scored that many victories in 1995.
Yet, besides being quick on their skis, the two champions share few similarities. While Alberto was the object of a mass hysteria, Henrik takes his career seriously and almost never has a night out. In fact, Aksel Lund Svindal picked Henrik as the next generation star most likely to follow in his footsteps, because “he's got the dedication and unbelievable skills on the slopes.”
3. Henrik is equally at home on two wheels
When he is not on skis, Henrik likes to ride his bikes; both road and mountain bikes, and enjoy motocross. He is a big believer in being versatile and doing many sports, in order to be a good overall athlete. He got his first motocross bike when he was five years old and has enjoyed the thrill ever since.
“Motocross is one of my favourite sports and I get to practise it in the summer. It’s a lot of fun and a great workout,” says Henrik.
4. Henrik has achieved a lot for a young man
For someone who’s only 21, Henrik has already written a lot of skiing history. Two years ago, he became the youngest male medallist in Olympic alpine skiing when he won slalom bronze at Sochi. With six FIS Junior World Champs gold medals, he also owns the men’s record.
He is already the most successful slalom racer of all time in his native Norway. And this January, he became the only skier in 50 years of FIS World Cup history to win all the classic slalom races back to back: Adelboden, Wengen, Kitzbühel and Schladming.
There are still two slalom races on the schedule, and Henrik could even set the new record of eight slalom victories in a single season; if he did that, he would surpass such ski legends as Ingemark Stenmark, Marc Girardelli and Alberto Tomba, all of whom scored seven.
5. He uses his size to his advantage
Compared to his competitors, Henrik looks like an endurance athlete, tall and skinny (and the rumour has it, he is quite a runner, too). That’s why many media outlets call him the toothpick, and Henrik admits that in the future he will probably need to gain more muscle mass if he plans to also ski fast on the long-speed skis.
But for now, it seems that Henrik’s tall and lean dimensions might be turning to be his secret weapon. Check out his photoshoot at the Norwegian Opera last year, inspired by Jordan Matter’s series, Athletes Among Us.