It’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of an elite athlete. And it’s especially hard when the chosen sport is as physically, mentally and technically demanding as mogul skiing, which often resembles high speed organized chaos, with backflips thrown in for good measure.
Hedvig Wessel, as one of the world’s leading mogul skiers, representing Norway at the last two Winter Olympics, and while still in her early twenties was the archetypal professional, with the mogul world at her feet. Then, after a decade in the sport, and the peak of her powers, new inspiration and desire took hold; rather than watch the world’s best freeride skiers, she wanted to be the world’s best freeride skier.
To many such a decision would seem strange, but to Hedvig, who grew up in Oslo and spent every weekend during the winter at the family house in the mountains, it was a natural evolution. Given her love for being in the mountains mixed with her enthusiasm for a challenge, it was probably inevitable.
“One of the best moments I have had in the mountains was a few years ago at Riksgränsen, which is a Swedish mountain inside the arctic circle. It was my first time there and I remember vividly having to drive all day to get there! At ten in the evening we finally arrived, and immediately decided to build a jump. That session, with the best group of friends, all against the most surreal pink sky and landscape, was so beautiful and a moment that has stayed with me.”
A free spirit who is happiest when skiing with friends, not having to wait around with a film crew or photographer to find the perfect angle, Hedvig also possesses an acute sense of purpose. A skill and approach honed from her elite career in moguls and the Norwegian Olympic team’s training focus on mental, as well as physical, preparation.
“I’m very dedicated and when I set a goal I work very hard to reach it. It also helps that I love pushing my limits and trying new things. But I also believe in spending time with people who are better than me, or people who do their own thing and have a unique way of skiing and living. I never stop asking questions, which I think has helped me make some good decisions.”
Being part of the Freeride World Tour in 2019 was one of those good decisions.
Coming from a fully supported national team to traveling the globe solo, competing against the best skiers on some of the most renowned mountains around, is a steep learning curve. But in taking fourth overall in the 2019 FWT, while winning the Austrian stop in Fieberbrunn, illustrates clearly that Hedvig is not your average skier and why the 2020 season will be worth watching.
“I gain a lot of inspiration from my progress, feeling the improvements and realizing that I’m getting better. But I also feel very humble, especially before I drop into a race run. Then I go back to my mental training, try to keep calm and think about my run. I smile and talk to myself. With music in my ears, building up my positive energy, I tell myself why I love doing this and how thankful I am to be here.”
“Then, I go.”
Leaping into the known.