With many snowsports requiring a mixture of balance, speed and control, it’s not surprising that several big-name stars of downhill skiing, Skeleton and ski jumping have moved over to motorsports over the years. Here are six who jumped from the slopes to the racetrack.
1. Adam Malysz
Ski Jumping to Rally Raid Driving
A huge star in his native Poland (thanks to his success in his first love, ski jumping), Adam Malysz turned his attention to competing in rally raids after announcing his retirement – with four Olympic medals to his name – in 2011.
After finishing 37th behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Pajero at the 2012 Dakar Rally, Malysz notched up a wholly respectable 15th in the 2013 event in his Toyota Hilux. The Pole will be back in action again this year, and will look to finish even further up the order.
2. Sebastien Ogier
Skiing to Rally Driving
Growing up in the mountain town of Gap in southeastern France, where children practically emerge from the womb with skis strapped to their feet, Sebastien Ogier spent his early years on the slopes, racing in competitive skiing events for Ski Club Orcieres 1850 and earning himself a qualification as an instructor before moving to rallying.
As it turned out, it was a good decision. Ogier claimed the World Rally championship for Volkswagen in 2013.
3. Amy Williams
Skeleton to Rally Co-Driving
After retiring from competing in the Skeleton event – in which she won gold at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 – British athlete Amy Williams made a wild career switch to rally co-driving. Williams's most recent stint was sitting alongside former F1 pundit Tony Jardine in a Mitsubishi Evo at Wales Rally GB back in November.
Co-driving’s not as easy as just jumping in the passenger seat with a notebook, however. Williams had to read the pace notes in four national rally events to gain her international co-driver’s licence.
4. Andreas Mikkelsen
Skiing to Rally Driving
Sebastien Ogier’s Volkswagen teammate in the WRC, Andreas Mikkelsen was called up at the age of 12 to compete for Norway’s junior teams in both skiing and motocross. But when a knee injury put paid to his skiing ambitions, winter sport’s loss was motorsport’s gain. Mikkelsen made his World Rally Championship debut aged 17, going on to win the 2011 and 2012 International Rally championships and earn himself a place in Volkswagen's WRC squad for 2013.
If those lofty achievements aren't enough to make you envy the multi-talented Mikkelsen, his nickname – "The Handsome One" – might.
5. Daniel Bodin
Freestyle Snowmobile to Freestyle Motocross
Sweden’s Daniel Bodin didn’t so much switch from snowsports to motorsports – he does them both, depending on the weather.
In 2008, Bodin set the world record for the longest backflip on a snowmobile. But when the Swedish winter subsides, Bodin keeps his skills sharp with his first love, freestyle motocross, regularly wowing the crowds at exhibitions for Red Bull X-Fighters and Nitro Circus.
6. Luc Alphand
Skiing to Various Motorsports
Luc Alphand spent the mid-1990s at the top of his game in skiing, claiming the World Cup in 1997 after winning the Super G and Downhill disciplines. Following his retirement in the same year, Alphand switched to racing cars.
The Frenchman started small, competing first in the Nissan Micra Stars Cup before moving up to European Le Mans Series, FIA GT Championship and Lamborghini Super Trofeo. Clearly a man not fazed by switching disciplines, in 2006 Alphand took a momentous win in the Dakar Rally in a Mitsubishi Pajero.
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