- Associated Press - Saturday, January 25, 2014

BORMIO, Italy (AP) - A consistent contender. A spokesman for his sport. And a survivor of both serious injury and tragedy.

When it comes to Alpine ski racing, Aksel Lund Svindal has it all.

“He’s a gentleman, he’s a class act, he’s everything you could want in that sort of spokesperson,” Canadian rival Erik Guay said. “We’re definitely lucky to have him.”

Personable, intelligent and an effective communicator in multiple languages, the tall Norwegian embraces his role as skiing’s version of Roger Federer.

Rarely do other skiers spend more time speaking with the media at races than he does.

“That comes with it,” Svindal said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “If our sport wasn’t popular and the athletes didn’t help, we wouldn’t be able to make a living. So I think it’s something that’s part of our job.”

Ask Svindal about his expectations for next month’s Sochi Olympics, and he’ll tell you quite matter-of-factly that he can win medals in four different events.

“I have really good chances in two events and I have decent chances in the two other events,” Svindal said.

The “really good” chances are in downhill and super-G and the “decent” chances are in super-combined and giant slalom.

As if his word wasn’t good enough, Svindal’s recent medal record provides proof.

He took home a gold in super-G, a silver in downhill and a bronze in giant slalom from the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Then at last season’s world championships in Schladming, Austria, he won gold in downhill, bronze in super-G, was fourth in giant slalom and was on pace for a medal in super-combined until he straddled a gate in the slalom leg.

A two-time overall World Cup winner, Svindal has also dominated the speed events of downhill and super-G on the World Cup circuit for the past two seasons.

“Aksel is a professional on all accounts, from physically to his equipment to working hard. His ability to be so professional is remarkable, and that’s what makes him so good,” U.S. Ski Team men’s head coach Sasha Rearick said.

“He doesn’t bring the charisma that a Bode (Miller) or a (Didier) Cuche or a Hermann (Maier) does - which the sport does need - but Aksel’s style of skiing is extremely solid,” Rearick added. “For him to be able to ski as fast as he does is remarkable, because it’s nothing special. It’s very simple, it’s very in the fall line and there are no spectacular recoveries or things like that. … He’s a strong, big guy and he understands what’s important to be fast. And that comes from years and years of being professional.”

Story Continues →