With his first World Cup start
at Val d’Isere, freeskiing legend
Jon Olsson is officially going
from the ramps to the gates
and gunning for the Sochi 2014
Games BY ERIC WILLIAMS
Will Jon be buckled up
for Sochi? Stay tuned.
Jon Olsson takes on the daunt- ing Stade Bellevarde course at Val d’Isere in his first career World Cup start.
For 19 racers in the giant slalom in Val d’Isere on Dec. 11, their DNF may have felt like a disappointment.
But for one other who also DNF’ed, the moment was still a big step forward.
That racer was Swedish freeskiing icon Jon Olsson who, three years after making a beer-fueled bet with a
friend, earned his first World Cup start at Val d’Isere. And if he didn’t finish, well, that was OK.
“I came here to have fun and go all out, so I did and seeing that I can almost qualify with bib 53 makes me
very very stoked on the future!” wrote Olsson, 27, on his blog after the race. “Now I know that I’m not crazy
for thinking I can do this, now I know I can, all I have to do is be patient and work even harder!”
Olsson, for anyone who’s been living in a snow-free cave for the last several years, is one of the world’s
best freeskiers with dozens of big-air records to his name and multiple X Games medals, along with a slew
of sponsorships and his own high-profile invitational event. But with roots in ski racing, he’s determined to
prove that he can go back to bashing gates with the best of them.
As a junior racer, Olsson excelled at Sweden’s IFK Mora Alpina Ski Club. “Ski racing was my whole life
since I was 2 years old,” said Olsson in an interview with Ski Racing last summer, several months after winning a NorAm GS in Panorama, B.C. “That was all I did, and I was pretty determined. It seemed pretty clear
that I was going to be in the top of the world in ski racing.”
But while training at age 16, Olsson noticed that the program’s snowboarders were getting attention and free
products from sponsors. One night, while Olsson was jumping with the boarders, a photographer snapped a
shot that was later published in a magazine. The photo earned him an invite to a big-air contest at the beginning of the twin-tip era. As the inventor of the “switch seven,” Olsson cruised to the top of the podium of his
first freestyle contest and didn’t look back.
“That was the start of the freestyle side of things for me,” he said. “It all happened so quickly that I didn’t really have time to make a decision if I was going to ski race or jump. It was more like, I could either pay to ski
race or get paid to go to Aspen and ski powder.”