The shooting star Lucas Pinheiro Braathen (21) believes the almost unreal slalom triumph in Wengen, Switzerland, is the best reward for his willingness to resist critics of him and his father.
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Braathen drove a fantastic second lap and climbed from 29th place to victory – the biggest pick-up in World Cup history.
– I know that there are many who have always doubted the choices of me and my father. I hope this shows that the absolute most important thing is to do what you want yourself and have faith in yourself. For there is no one who wants you better than yourself. This victory means everything, says Braathen to VG.
Only 10 years old, the Hokksund guy and dad Bjørn Braathen wrote down a 10-year plan for how the alpinist should be among the best in the world. On Sunday, Lucas Pineihro Braathen was responsible for the slalom collection of all time when he advanced from a 29th place after the first round to victory in the Wengen final.
– It’s indescribable. I was actually on my way home after the first round with the mistake I had then. Then I got information that maybe could hold on to the second half anyway, and it did. Then I thought it could hold to maybe the top 20-top 15. Now I understand nothing. It was completely unthinkable that it would last all the way to victory, says Braathen to VG.
It is only one year since he injured his knee badly in Adelboden and had to have surgery. This was followed by a nine-month training period.
– This means extremely much. I really have no words for how much it means to get paid for all the work I have put in, says Braathen.
– It is as surprising to me as everyone else. But I have seen that his downhill skiing has had a positive development lately. It’s big, says dad Bjørn Braathen to VG.
Also read: Braathen with sensational triumph
Another reason why the victory means so much is that the alpinist from Hokksund (between Drammen and Kongsberg), with a Norwegian father and a Brazilian mother, has made many choices in growing up that have separated him from boys and girls of the same age. It has also contributed to skepticism from the environment, something Braathen has felt, he says.
– There is nothing that can pay more than with a day like this considering everyone who has tried to stand in the way of the process I am in and everyone who has doubted me. Then you have those on the other side who have believed in me. Showing everyone that it is possible to succeed is completely “insane”, says the 21-year-old.
– Who has doubted you?
– There have been people all the way. It’s all you will find in the environments where you live and even in the training environments I have been in. I will not go into too much detail. But one of the hardest things is that I have always had to go against the flow and be true to the plan I and my father have made. When everyone says it’s wrong, we say it’s right. These are exactly the choices that make it possible to have a day like today, says Braathen, before adding:
– I do not think it is the things we have done that have meant the most, but the fact that we have trusted our choices. I’m proud of it.
Dad Bjørn understands what his son is aiming for.
– I recognize myself in what he says. That’s perhaps what I’ve thought was the most fun to watch. The 10-year plan expired after last year’s season. We had quite a bit of time to think ahead since he was injured. Then we laid out a five-year plan. It’s the one he’s working on now, and he has the patience to stand in it too.
Pappa Braathen says that the original 10-year plan included a goal of training 10,000 hours.
– There are many paths to the goal, and we have done it our way. We knew at a young age the amount of training Lucas had in previous years. We experienced that many people thought that it might not be particularly good. We ruled by the 10,000-hour rule over a 10-year period. He did not train 1000 hours when he was 10 years old, but that amount was periodized over the period, says Braathen senior, before he continues.
– To change ski high school after one year when you feel it does not work, not everyone does it either, but Lucas did.
– What does it mean for you that your son succeeds as now?
– As a father, it is always great to see your children succeed. We have worked very closely together all these years. It was surprising today, but it is not surprising that he should win again this year. We have had faith in that. But this means very, very much.
– And have you been as tough as he has described before?
– Ha-ha. It’s hard for me to answer if I’ve been that hard. I do not think so, but there have probably been periods where he has experienced that there has been little room for not carrying out planned training sessions. From the time he was quite young, we have removed all performance goals and only had skill goals. At the bottom, it has been that there has had to be a connection between effort and goal.
– And then you have to take the consequences of it?
– Yeah right. This is perhaps where the rigor he has talked about is, that we must implement what we have agreed on if it is to be possible to achieve the goals we have set. And he has had to want it himself. If he has wanted to lower the goals, it will be perfectly fine for me, but he has never lowered them, says dad Bjørn Braathen.
The son Lucas also gets praise from teammates Kjetil Jansrud and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen after the race.
– It’s absolutely huge. He returns from an injury and wins one of the great classics. I’m so impressed. It’s an insane achievement. He is a real “attacking viking”, says Jansrud to VG.
Nestvold-Haugen, who is himself a giant slalom specialist, was not in Wengen, but he then ran home with the children.
– When Lucas finished in the final round, I sent a message in an internal group we have on the national team that it was going to be the podium. Then we wrote a little between each other, and when there were eight left, we asked if this could hold on to victory, Nestvold-Haugen tells VG and elaborates on why he got to believe early on in the insane recovery, which later turned out to be the slalom history’s very biggest.
– Wengen is a difficult route. It is difficult to find the rhythm. When Lucas hit as clean as he did, with early numbers, you know that when it’s hot and the track gets softer, it’s possible. It was a flawless game. It shows the capacity of Lucas and the level of our national team during the day.
Nestvold-Haugen has been close to Braathen’s strenuous job of getting back on the ground after the knee injury last winter. He is impressed with the work the young boy has done.
– He has worked very hard. He has been properly dedicated. That he manages to climb to the top of the podium may be something you should not expect so quickly, but we know what lives in him. I know he makes great demands on himself. Lucas is an offensive type. And now he is ready for the Olympics. If you win a World Cup race, there is no doubt, says Nestvold-Haugen about Braathen.