Kilde: The Next Norwegian Overall Champion?
Attacking Viking Aleksander Aamodt Kilde has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top ranks of the World Cup speed circuit since breaking onto the scene with a stellar 2015-16 campaign that saw the Norwegian take his first World Cup podium, win, and crystal globe in super-G all at the tender age of 23.
Now, Kilde is somewhat of a veteran on the circuit as his textbook technique and brute strength make him a podium contender week in and week out at the speed stops of the World Cup tour. He’s even shown some impressive giant slalom chops on a few occasions, finding the top-15 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, and Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
“It’s been a good season with lots of ups and downs, but my first thought about the season was my stability throughout the winter,” Kilde shares in a recent interview with the FIS. “With a lot of fourth places I feel like I didn’t get out all of my potential, and I think by experiencing that I’ll be able to lower my shoulders for the upcoming seasons and maybe do even better.”
The same competitive drive that propels Kilde down the mountain can be found off the slopes, too, as the native of Baerum is known as one of the strongest and hardest working athletes in the gym on tour. The Norwegian team is famous for its physical prowess, and to be considered at the top of a pile of teammates who pride themselves on their fitness is an accomplishment in and of itself.
“I started out very young focusing on physical training and versatility,” he explains. “This has given me a solid physical base and the possibility to develop my strength throughout the years. It’s hard for me to know if I’m doing anything different than the others, especially those from other countries, but I know I’m pretty much doing everything the same as the other guys on my team, although I always try to give a little extra!”
Kilde used that solid physical base to enjoy a successful junior career that included a 2013 World Junior GS title in his early years with the national team. Now, as the men’s GS ski regulations are changing once again, Kilde is looking to become a podium threat on the World Cup in his once-preferred discipline.
“After testing the new GS skis for the first time, my first thought was that GS skiing will be fun again,” he says. “I think it will be easier for the speed guys to handle the equipment. Since the new sidecut makes it easier to achieve the optimal curve, the speed guys won’t need as many GS training hours than in the past to be able to fight for a top-10 position.”
In addition to his emerging GS form, Kilde surprised many – including himself – with his consistency in alpine combined. With a third-place finish in Santa Caterina, Italy, last December, and a gut-wrenching fourth place at the World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, it might not be long before we see Kilde mixing it up at the top of the overall rankings with the likes of Austria’s Marcel Hirscher.
“Being an all-rounder has always been my plan, and winning the big globe is for sure my biggest goal,” he says. “I really hope to achieve that one day. First of all, I have to take another step in downhill and giant slalom to have a chance on even fighting for the big globe. So my conclusion is to keep the same pace I have had the last two seasons and try to improve my skiing in all the disciplines and still fighting for the top of the podium – especially in super-G.”
The elephant in the room, however, is the looming 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, in February. The Attacking Vikings have quite the streak going in Kilde’s best event, as a Norwegian man has won gold in each Olympic super-G since 2002 with Kjetil Andre Aamodt (2002, 2006), Aksel Lund Svindal (2010), and Kjetil Jansrud (2014) all climbing the top step of the podium. So, does Kilde feel the pressure to perform on the biggest stage?
“I’m not thinking about the upcoming season as anything different,” he admits. “I have to do the same preparations to be able to achieve my goals, both on the World Cup and at the Olympics. It would not be wise to do any big changes. However, with even more experience, I will be able to do a bit better on all the details and minimize the mistakes during the races.”