Aksel Lund Svindal was born on December 26, 1982 in Lørenskog, on the outskirts of the Norwegian capital, Oslo. Both of his parents were accomplished skiers and Svindal received his first pair of skis as a third birthday present. During childhood, his family spent their holidays in the Norwegian resort of Geilo, where his grandparents owned a cabin.
Svindal left home at 15 and combined his studies with skiing in Oppdal, 400km north of his hometown. He soon found himself skiing on Norway's Junior Team and, by the time he was 19, Svindal was wholly dedicated to his career as a full-time skier.
His first big win came in the 2006–7 season, where he won the FIS World Cup overall. After a full recovery from a serious crash at the Golden Eagle jump, Aksel fought back to win the 2008–9 World Cup title at Beaver Creek, and went on to take the silver medal in the prestigious men's downhill event in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter. He also took his first Olympic gold just days later in the Super-G competition, showing the world he was back and fighting fit.
In 2011, Svindal was on the defence, and successfully reclaimed his gold in super-combined at the World Championships. In 2012, he added the Super-G title to his long list of achievements, and in 2013 and 2014 he backed it up by becoming FIS Alpine Ski World Cup champion in both Super-G and Downhill, cementing his place in the history books. He racked up more wins in both 2015 and 2016.
Early in 2017, Svindal announced on Instagram that he would miss the rest of the season. After the Val Gardena Downhill in December 2016, where he'd only missed out on victory by 0.04s, he had a "strange feeling" in his knee and "something didn't seem right". After training at Wengen in January 2017 he decided "something's not right and we needed to find out what". An inconclusive MRI scan meant he needed surgery, and this revealed "a meniscus that was no longer attached to the bone". But Svindal was typically upbeat, saying, "there are great chances of this being much better next winter."Read more