Kjetil Andre Aamodt Biography
First Olympic Gold, What's Next?, Awards And Accomplishments, Further Information
Norwegian alpine skier
Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway, nicknamed "Baby Shark," won two gold medals in Alpine skiing at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. These were his second and third Olympic gold medals, and they brought his Olympic medal total to seven—more than any other Alpine skier in history. Aamodt has won top honors at both the Olympics and in international championships in five skiing events—slalom, giant slalom, downhill, combined, and super-G, for 17 medals overall.
Growing up in Oslo, Aamodt (pronounced "AHmott") idolized the great Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark, whose 86 World Cup race victories stand alone. Young Aamodt would hurry home after school to watch Stenmark's races on television.
Aamodt's father, Finn Dag, is one of the most highly regarded Alpine ski instructors in Norway; Aamodt, not surprisingly, was an accomplished skier by age seven. He also played many other sports and he has continued to play golf, soccer, and ice hockey as adult.
Aamodt first came to prominence as a skier in 1990 when he became a junior world champion. He skied in his first World Cup in 1989-90, in time to meet his idol, Stenmark, who was still ranked No. 1 in the world. "I did not know him very well," Aamodt told the Houston Chronicle's John P. Lopez. "I was usually in the second (slower) group. When I met him, I thought he would be taller."
Aamodt enjoys a special rivalry with one of his peers, Lasse Kjus. They are the same age, attended the same skiing school and frequently compete in the same races. The childhood friends also roomed together for 10 years. "We have a great rivalry, a great friendship and we help each other," Aamodt told the Salt Lake Tribune's Tom Wharton. Kjus was the world's first skier to win five medals at a world championship, which he did at Vail, Colorado in 1999.
Aamodt, after finishing 34th overall in the 1989-90 World Cup, improved his standing each year. He moved
up to 17th and 13th, then finished in second place in 1992-93 in second place after Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg edged him out for his fifth title, despite Aamodt's end-of-the-season surge. The season, Aamodt said, was "kind of up and down." Aamodt finally took the gold at the World Cup in 1993-94, at age 22.
Sketch by Michael Belfiore
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