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After setting a world record for skiing backwards at 130km/h, Elias Ambühl shifts his sights.
Elias Ambühl may lay claim to one of the more unusual world records - for skiing backwards at over 130km/h - but the Swiss freeskier now has an appetite for getting his name in the record books once more and attaining #xgames glory.
In a somewhat unusual preparation for the upcoming European #xgames in Oslo, Ambühl was challenged by a Swiss TV and radio station to help bring back some records to his native Switzerland.
His target was to break the previous best of Norwegian Anders Backe of 128.7km/h dating back four years ago, a feat he achieved with a top speed of 131.23km/h, including a 180-degree turn at more then 100km/h, which led him to note on Instagram, “Hope I’m getting busted by the cops”.
He said: “It’s funny because someone pointed out that the speed limit on the motorway in Switzerland is 120km/h,” he says. “Thankfully, the slopes have no limits.”
And neither, it seems, does Ambühl. His trick effectively marked a return to action after five weeks out of action after a small fracture to his right knee as he competed in the Big Air #competition at the #xgames in Aspen, where a year earlier he had left having seriously damaged the anterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee.
Looking towards Oslo, he said: “The doctor said I should rest until the #competition, and not do jumps but I think I’ll be ok. The last time I was out with my ACL, I worried about coming back but I didn’t feel behind. It wasn’t like suddenly people had added a load of tricks and left me behind.
“For Oslo, I’m not trying to set my expectations too high since getting hurt at the #xgames. I want to do all the tricks but be able to finish the season healthy and have a good summer before the Olympics.”
On his day, he should comfortably be among the podium finishers having three times been an #xgames bronze medalist in Big Air in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
So what of the targets beyond Oslo having now a thirst for the record books?
“I’m not sure what’s next with the records,” he said. “It was cool to get a world record but people say that once you get one you want to get another. I kind of feel like that but I don’t know what. Maybe I’ve got some ideas. But also I really want that #xgames Big Air gold.”
Of the record itself, how exactly does it feel to #ski backwards at over 130km/h? “Fast, really fast,” he added. “But I felt in control. I had to make sure I was in a good aerodynamic position and I didn’t really have to focus on much else.
“As for the jump, it was a bit slower although that felt fast, but hey it was just a 180.”
His preparation involved him skiing backwards at speed amid tourists on his home slopes before tackling the record on a closed slope. And as will be the case in Oslo, it is all done with a smile.
“My approach is that if you’re smiling and stoked then I think it affects how you #ski in a good way,” he said. “Right now, I feel massively happy.”
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