Aksel Lund Svindal said a burning desire for gold, rather than a place in history, inspired him to the Olympic downhill title on Thursday — although he described the sparse crowd as “a bit sad”.
Svindal, 35 and coming to the end of a stellar career, clocked 1min 40.25sec down the 3km-long Jeongseon course to hand Norway its first ever Olympic downhill gold. He also became the oldest ever alpine skiing gold medallist.
Team-mate Kjetil Jansrud won silver, with Switzerland’s reigning world champion Beat Feuz taking bronze in a thrilling race despite initial criticism from some racers that the course was too tame for an Olympics.
Having notched up a medal of every colour in the 2010 Vancouver Games, Svindal failed to podium in Sochi, but with his downhill gold here matched Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister’s record of winning both downhill and super-G titles.
“It’s cool to get the gold,” said Svindal, a five-time world champion and twice a World Cup overall champion.
“When you cross the finish line and you see that you have a good race and you’re in the medals, you don’t think too much about the history books.
“It’s emotional, it’s being at the Olympics and competing for a gold and being able to get it.
“Those feelings are way stronger than any history written. Honestly, I didn’t care much about that — I just wanted to win!”
Svindal, who used all his gliding experience to power down the bottom half of the course, added: “On the World Cup you have multiple chances, here it comes down to this one single day after waiting for a week.
“What can you do? You just get after it.”