Double Olympic champion Aksel Lund Svindal to retire after world championships
Over and out for Aksel Lund Svindal!
The double Olympic champion will retire from alpine ski racing after the world championships in Are, Sweden next month.
The 36-year-old has been hampered by persistent injuries to his right knee over the last three years, forcing him to end his illustrious career that has spanned over seventeen years.
"I'm really focused on the Worlds at Are, it's going to be my last race." - Aksel Lund Svindal
The five-time world champion made the unexpected announcement at the glamourous Kitz Race Party in the finish area of the legendary Streif downhill course in Austria.
Dressed in a tuxedo, he told the gathering of the ski fraternity and VIPs that "the races at the world championships will be my last ones" and received a standing ovation.
"I had the opportunity to tell people face to face and make it a little personal. Everyone I have been working with for the last 15 years was there, so it felt like the right place to make the announcement." - Akel Lund Svindal to Norwegian newspaper VG
Svindal arrived in Austria hoping to compete but experienced pain in his knee after the first practice run and decided to skip the races in Kitzbuhel to rest his knee
"The 2019 version of Kitzbühel is tougher than the 2019 version of me. No new injuries, but the old injury took a pretty heavy beating." - Aksel Lund Svindal
The Norwegian is also set to miss next week's speed events in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to allow him the maximum recovery time ahead of his final race weekend at the world championships.
"The decision has come over the last few weeks. Now I can give it all one more time and then it's over" - Aksel Lund Svindal to Austrian TV channel ORF
Out with Injury
Svindal's record is phenomenal - even though he missed a lot of races.
He was forced to skip the entire 2015 season due to a torn achilles tendon but then returned in 2016 only to suffer a season-ending knee injury in Kitzbuhel, Austria.
Another knee surgery prevented him from competing at the 2017 World Alpine Ski Championships.
But the following season, he claimed Olympic gold in the downhill event at PyeongChang 2018, adding to his gold in the Super-G from Vancouver 2010.
Swansong in Sweden
The world championships in Are will be a fitting end for Svindal.
Norway's "bionic man" has competed in 386 world cup races - winning 36 races and claiming two overall world cup titles.
But it was in Are back in 2007, where Svindal won his maiden world titles when he clinched victory in the downhill and the giant slalom.
Twelve years later, Norway's beloved ski king will return to the same slopes aiming to add to his haul of eight world championship medals when he is expected to start in the super-G on 6 February and the downhill three days later.