Aksel Lund Svindal will be going a bit slower than usual.  He’s not returning to downhill or super G action. He’s taking part in a gruelling cross-country ski race. 


The reigning Olympic downhill champion crossed the line in his last ski race just over a year ago.

Now Norway’s most successful ever World Cup alpine racer is getting ready for another big contest.

This time on skinny little skis.

As a Norwegian you may think cross-country is in his blood.

Think again.

Svindal says he is not your typical Norwegian.

“I have done terribly little on cross-country skiing, but it is not too late to start,” he says.

In fact the 37-year-old has not had a pair of cross country skis on since the 1990s.

Nevertheless, he’s taken on a challenge from his compatriot, the great cross-country skier and double Olympic champion Petter Northug to take part in a 20km race in Hafjell in Norway in April.

So he needs to get training and Northug is the man to help him master the technique.

“I will get you in such good shape and so good technically that you will love cross country skiing in the future,” Northug promises.

Aksel Lund Svindal & Petter Northug - photo Red Bull

Svindal with Northug on his heels – photo Red Bull

Svindal’s progress is being followed closely.

You can watch the first episode (it’s in Norwegian) of ‘Petter trains Aksel’ on the Red Bull website.

He already looks pretty impressive to us.

Northug reckons he’s got a a good pupil.

“He adopts technique very quickly, so with a little work I think he can get an OK result,” he says

Svindal is going to be up against some serious, elite cross country skiers – Therese Johaug, Johannes Høsflot Klæbo and Aleksandr Bolshunov are just some of the stars expected to be on the starting line in this year’s race.

He’s not going in expecting to win.

He says all he wants is to do well enough so he doesn’t embarrass himself.

Aksel Lund Svindal cross country training - photo Red Bull

For once his goal is not to win – photo Red Bull

The Red Bull Janteloppet 2020 takes place at Hafjell on 4th April.

If you’ve never given cross country skiing a go, you really should.

You might just get hooked.

In January Aksel Lund Svindal answered some questions from PlanetSKI about his experiences racing the infamous Hahnenkamm in Kitzbühel: