At home with the Ski QueenFrida Hansdotter is the best female slalom skier in the world and travels and competes across the globe. She says she shares one thing in particular with her sponsor, Seco: “We both want to be best in the world at what we do.”
We meet on a hot summer's day at the Fagersta Homestead Museum in Sweden, about as far from steep mountains and icy pistes as you can get. Frida Hansdotter is on a brief break from skiing for a couple of months. She last skied in May, and on August 1 it will be time to tighten up the ski boots again.
During 2016, Hansdotter won the Slalom World Cup and she now has the right to call herself the world’s best female slalom skier, but here, back at home, she doesn’t come across as a ski queen.
“There’s a big difference between home and the ski scene,” she says with a smile. “Here, I’m not ‘Frida the skier’, I’m just ordinary Frida.”
Looking back on the 2015/2016 season, the competition in Jasna, Slovakia, in early March is, of course, top of my mind. That was where she secured the overall Slalom World Cup victory in the season’s second last competition.
“That day in Jasna was my best and my worst. I had a lousy competition and ended up tenth, but I secured the overall victory. Then of course, I was really relaxed when competing in Saint Moritz, where I ended up third.”
Hansdotter grew up in Norberg, a small town about 15 kilometres from Seco Tools’ headquarters at Fagersta. She has skied her entire life – first in a baby carrier backpack on her father Hans’ back, then on her own legs in the local skiing slope at Klackberg.
Up until she was a teenager, she also skied cross country and played football, but then it was Alpine skiiing all the way.
“We were a sporty family,” says Hansdotter. “When my friends were getting ready to go to the disco on Friday evenings, we got in the car and drove up to the Swedish mountains to go skiing. And we thought it was great fun!”
Several times during the conversation, Hansdotter emphasises how much she enjoys skiing and the joy she feels, whether it be during competition, raining or just skiing for pleasure.
“It’s the enjoyment that has taken me this far and when I’m standing at the starting gate I always get a smile on my face,” she says. “I actually don’t get at all nervous apart from looking at the opportunities the course offers and feeling that I should give it everything and see how far that gets me.”
But is it really only enjoyment? Don’t you also need a competitive mentality?
“Yes, of course you do,” she says. “I have a really competitive mentality in everything I do, be it bowling, kubb [a classic Swedish picnic-game], or Yatzy.”
She adds that she has gradually learned to focus, which has helped her in her amazing career.
“When I manage to combine focus with harmony and technique, I succeed,” she says. “And I really enjoy testing my limits.”
Hansdotter travels and competes for around 200 days of the year. She has visited many countries, but has never considered living anywhere other than at home, initially in Norberg and then in Fagersta where she lives with her boyfriend.
“I have a secure existence here at home, close to family and friends,” she says. “It’s lovely to be here when I have a break from skiing, both for my head and my body. But, obviously, I’m also training and charging up ahead of next season.”
Otherwise, she potters about at home and hangs out with friends and family. When I ask her where she has placed the crystalglobe trophy that shows she won the Slalom World Cup, she reveals that she still hasn’t unpacked it. It’s a fate the trophy shares with Hansdotter’s other awards.
“But we have a guest cottage that I’m thinking about decorating with a ski-sports theme. There could be a special ‘Frida Cabinet’ in there,” she laughs.
During the 2016/2017 season Hansdotter will be hotly pursued by other competitors. “It hasn’t really sunk in that I’m the best in the world and that everyone wants to beat me,” she says. Obviously, I want to hold on to the title. But I also want to get my first podium finish in giant slalom, and so I’m looking forward to a good competition at the World Ski Championships in St. Moritz.”
Hansdotter aims to keep competing until 2019.
“That’s when we have the World Cup at Åre in Sweden, and a medal there would be an absolutely fantastic way to finish. After that, we’ll have to see. I’m not worried at all about the future.”