Since making his World Cup debut back in 2012 at the season slalom opener in Levi, Finland, Norway’s Sebastian Foss-Solevaag has proved himself to be a reliable technical skier for the Attacking Vikings. In fact, his first World Cup points came exactly one year later in Levi when the then 22-year-old rocketed from bib 55 to finish in ninth place. Now 28 and a veteran on the slalom circuit, Foss-Solevaag is looking to expand his World Cup repertoire and become competitive in multiple disciplines in the coming years.
“I would love to compete in more races during the season, not only slalom, city event, and sometimes alpine combined,” Foss-Solevagg says in a recent interview with FIS. “I train a lot of GS during the pre-season and racing season, but because of my high ranking is’s hard to compete in the World Cup. The calendar is very tight during the winter so I need to prioritize. Getting better GS FIS points will be a long term project. I don’t currently prioritize traveling around to get better FIS points in GS, but it is a long-term project.”
The Norwegian has been ranked inside the top-30 in World Cup slalom in each season since 2014, with a career-best season ranking of eighth coming in the 2018 season. Known on Tour as an athlete with a top gear in slalom that rivals some of the best on the World Cup, Foss-Solevaag has nonetheless been plagued with consistency issues in the past, despite his two World Cup slalom podiums in 2015 and 2016 and regular top-10 finishes over the years. Foss-Solevaag also played a key role on Norway’s bronze-medal winning team event team at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
“My top speed is more than good enough, but I need to be more resilient,” he explains. “I will describe myself as a serious and a happy athlete, but need to have fun with what I’m doing to perform as well as possible. If I have fun with what I’m doing then I will train harder and push more every day.”
Foss-Solevaag also took inspiration as a youngster from a certain swashbuckling American with his own unique flair and was also known as an athlete that seemed to always perform his best when he was enjoying himself on the hill.
“When I was younger I was obsessed with Bode Miller,” he says. “He was always my hero when he was performing. We did not have that many good Norwegian skiers at that time because there were a lot of injuries with Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Lasse Kjus. That’s when I became really interested in skiing and I started to think I wanted to be a World Cup skier.”
As with any team not based in Central Europe, the Norwegians spend most of their winter far enough from home where visiting family and friends during the season is inconvenient at best and impossible at worst given the busy training and racing schedules required to be competitive on the World Cup.
“Living in Norway is nice, especially in the spring because we can ski in Norway, but during the season from November to February we don’t spend much time at home,” he says. “A lot of check in and out at hotels, driving and flying from venue to venue. That can be pretty exhausting and stressful sometimes, especially when almost all of our competitors are from the middle of Europe and they can travel home between the races.”
To cope with the trials and tribulations of life on the road, the Norwegians, much like their American and Canadian counterparts, become very close with their teammates in and out of season. Forming near family-like bonds between athletes, coaches, and staff can make the difference between a successful season and one where burnout and homesickness overcome a team.
“I love being a part of the Norwegian National Team,” says Foss-Solevaag. “It is like a family for me because I spend more time with my teammates and coaches than my own family during the season. The benefit is that we train a lot with each other, especially in spring and summer. We know everybody well and we share training philosophy, and we push each other every day. We don’t have a secret when it comes to our physical performance, but we train a lot together so we have a really good culture with that and it has always been like that. We usually spend six weeks in Oslo from mid-May till the end of June, training together.”
With the famous Attacking Viking team behind him and Bode Miller as his inspiration, we just might see Foss-Solevaag climb the world ranks in more than slalom in the coming years.