Right now, it’s just the emotions when you cross the finish line, and you see that you’re ahead and that’s bigger than any record. —Aksel Lund Svindal
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The mental challenges of ski racing are much tougher to overcome than age, according to the newly crowned downhill Olympic champion.
The 35-year-old Aksel Lund Svindal became the oldest Alpine skier to win Olympic gold Thursday afternoon in a rescheduled downhill competition.
When asked about the honor of becoming the oldest Olympic champion, he said he hadn’t given it much thought as he focused on the demands of racing.
“That’s all good but there’s something about the pressure you put on yourself as well, how bad you want it,” he said. “I think that’s a thing that you think about after, but right now, it’s just the emotions when you cross the finish line, and you see that you’re ahead and that’s bigger than any record.”
Winning — at any age — at the Olympics feels pretty good.
“I’m extremely happy,” he said. “World Cup wins, I've been there a few times and know how that feels, but this is different. It's one of those things where you keep looking up the hill because I want to make sure it's real, like no one comes and skis faster.”
The top American finisher was Bryce Bennett, whose 1:41.18 time was 1.97 seconds slower than Svindal’s winning time of 1:40.25. It was good enough for 16th place.
Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud earned silver with a time of 1:40.37, while Switzerland’s Beat Feuz took bronze with a time of 1:40.43.
Utah’s Jared Goldberg skied the course in 1:42.59 — good enough for 20th — and 2.34 seconds behind Svindal.
"I’m super happy with how I approached it and how I skied," Goldberg said. "I was skiing at a really high level, and I’m really happy with that. Some things happened with the wind. ... But I have no control over that. I'm just happy with how I executed."