Freestyle Skier is ready for the Alpine World Cup!

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SOURCE - - Val d?ǨѢIs?ɬre ?Ǩ first alpine World Cup race for freestyle star Jon Olsson
Saturday 11 December 2010

Val d?ǨѢIs?ɬre ?Ǩ first alpine World Cup race for freestyle star Jon Olsson
Jon Olsson (Photo:

In December 1972, Italy?ǨѢs Piero Gros became at 18 the youngest winner in a World Cup race after dominating the rest of the field in Val d?ǨѢIs?ɬre?ǨѢs traditional giant slalom ?Ǩ it was his first ever World Cup start and the beginning of an impressive career on the ski scene marked by his triumph in the Overall standings in 1974 and in the Olympic slalom two years later.

On Saturday, Sweden?ǨѢs Jon Olsson is also entering his first ever alpine World Cup event ?Ǩ but at 28 he is one of the oldest racers at the start and he already has accomplished a series of impressive performances in another form of skiing ?Ǩ in freestyle. In the past eight seasons, he accumulated impressive victories including a gold medal in Big Air at the 2008 X Games at Aspen.

He also excelled in Superpipe and Slopestyle and is famous among fans for having invented several new double-flips including some named ?ǨDJ Flip?ǨѢ, ?ǨHexo Flip?ǨѢ, ?ǨKangaroo Flip?ǨѢ or ?ǨThe Tornado?ǨѢ.

Good results on the Europa Cup tour.

A true star in his usual environment, Olsson decided a few years ago that it would be fun trying to confirm his skills as an allround skier moving on the alpine tour. He bet several thousands Euro with his colleague Jens Byggmark, an established slalom specialist since his double win at Kitzb?ɬhel a few years ago, that he would be able to qualify within the Swedish alpine team for the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, in Russia. ?Ǩ?He called me a ?Ǩcircus apa?ǨѢ ?Ǩa circus monkey - because of my acrobatic style but he strongly doubted about my potential as a traditional alpine skier, so we made that bet?Ǩ Olsson explained at Val d?ǨѢIs?ɬre.

Earlier this week, Jon Olsson, who lives in Monaco, got a very important phone call from his national federation, one he's been waiting for a long time - he got invited to compete in his first World Cup alpine race scheduled this weekend in Val d'Is?ɬre, France. To make the 2014 Winter Olympics Olsson needs to get some experience on the top level and World Cup races surely brings him a step closer to making the Olympic team.

Until now, Olsson has only been racing in FIS and Europa Cup events, the minor leagues of World Cup ski racing as each country has a limited number of athletes it can send to World Cups - Sweden could only send three to Val d'Is?ɬre and Jon got the third spot after scoring some decent results in recent weeks on the Europa Cup tour.

At Trysil, in Norway, Olsson placed 15th and 20th. He's now ranked 30th overall in Europa Cup rankings, and his improved FIS points made him the third highest ranked athlete in Sweden for giant slalom.

He had a pretty busy scheduled in that resort. On Saturday morning, Jon Olsson raced in a giant slalom there, then, in the evening, the Scandinavian competed in the ?ǨSweet Rumble?ǨѢ big air contest. In a blog post detailing plans for his all-day, all-types-of-skis affair, Olsson poses the question, "Am I stupid enough?"

He also explained that he was very pleased to finally manage to enter a World Cup race ?Ǩ already a great achievement for him considering his lack of experience at that level. "It feels kind of unreal. I have always believed in what I have done, but I guess a part of me has still listened to all the people saying that I would never make my alpine comeback and that it was a terrible idea," Olsson wrote on his blog after being informed about his qualification for val d?ǨѢIs?ɬre.

"No matter what happens after this I feel that I have proved them wrong. Sure, I have a long way to go before I reach the top, but I did get as far as a World Cup start, something that no one can take away from me,?Ǩ he added.

A first success for Jon Olsson.

Just the fact that Olsson is getting a World Cup start is accomplishment enough, said his coach Guenther Birgmaan, a program director with the Treble Cone Race Academy in New Zealand, who started to take care of him in 2007. "Jon has a tremendous athletic potential and I'm sure that he will surprise us all," he explains. "It will take time in the World Cup circuit to become a top performer and I'm sure he will do so," Birgmaan also said.

"In the first World Cup race, it is all depending on his start position and in what condition the track will be with his start position. Let's say if he starts with start position 60, he'd need to ski faster than 30 guys who started ahead of him. This will be quite challenging because with every racer, the track will become slower."

Olsson's keeping his expectations for the weekend realistic. "What do I think of my chances? Well, to be honest it's going to be a tough one," he wrote on his blog. "I really don't care though, I am going to go out there, smile all day and ski as fast as I can. Breaking into the WC takes time, I just have to do my best, stay motivated and most of all keep having fun."

"I just feel such a relief that if nothing else I will at least have raced a World Cup race in my ski racing career," Olsson also wrote. "That's a very nice and unusual 'check box' to have next to the X Games medals."

In a realm of the sport that generally harbors some antipathy toward the racing set, Olsson is unique as a crossover athlete. At this level, Olsson's decision to both race on the World Cup tour and compete in big air is no doubt unprecedented.

The impressive ?ǨLa Face?ǨѢ course.

Jon as pretty impressed by the steep ?ǨLa Face?ǨѢ course on Bellevarde that he inspected with all other racers on Friday afternoon. ?Ǩ?It?ǨѢs tough and so long, my legs are tired,?Ǩ he said after his first test run. ?Ǩ?I?ǨѢll just do my best and try to have a good time. For sure it will not be easy. It?ǨѢs such a steep and long course, but as I said, it?ǨѢs already a victory being here. You know I have to catch up seven to eight years on the other guys. Alpine ski racing is very demanding, you need to be physical in great shape. In freestyle you don?ǨѢt get really tired. I hope to be racing for another ten years so I?ǨѢm happy to have come back in alpine racing after having fully focused on freestyle for a long time. ?Ǩ

?Ǩ?Ski racing is a big tradition in our family, my parents use to race as my younger brother. It?ǨѢs just too bad they don?ǨѢt have a combined event with alpine skiing and big air, I think I would have a good chance to do well.?Ǩ

?Ǩ?To qualify for the second run in a World Cup race would be a huge accomplishment. For the moment, I?ǨѢll see how things will turn out tomorrow and then I?ǨѢll check about my next steps this season.?Ǩ

?ǬOn Saturday, Jon Olsson will be wearing bib number 53 in the first run ?Ǩ and an eventual qualification for the second leg would already be a remarkable success for him.

URTUR Closing Observations:

Mr. Olsson, is no doubt a great skier and to be able to compete in GS at the World Cup level and do a "Kangaroo Flip" in the same day or the same year for that matter, is just simply amazing!!! ?ǬWhat should not be avoided is the fairness and allowance of the Sweden Ski Team management, Jon Olsson has not had any favors - I am sure his entry is based on performance and opportunity - but, this represents a significant change in attitude and a great understanding that there are many GREAT SKIERS... Not just Alpiner's or Freestyler's or Freeskier's but SKIERS and Snow Sliders. ?ǬLet's all join together to give Mr. Jon Olsson every once of karma we can give him to get to that second run!