|Birthdate:||July 12, 1985|
|Ht: / Wt:||6'1" / 170 lbs|
|Teammates:||Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Halvard Hanevold, Tarjei Boe|
While the Norwegian men's biathlon team will feature such tireless Olympic veterans as Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Halvard Hanevold, 24-year-old Emil Hegle Svendsen represents the new generation. The biathlete who calls himself "SuperSvendsen" could be the one who makes for a festive Norwegian atmosphere at Whistler Olympic Park.
The prince eyes the "King's" throne
Since winning seven medals - four gold -- at the 2004 and 2005 World Junior Championships, Svendsen has often been compared with Bjoerndalen in the Norwegian media. His Olympic debut at age 20, a sixth place finish in the 15km mass start in Torino, reinforced the idea that he could compete with the seniors. At the 2008 World Championships, he won two gold medals and one silver. In its preview for the 2009 Worlds, NRK television posed the following juxtaposition between the two teammates and rivals: "The king and the prince. The teacher and the student. The swan and the duckling. Two mega-favorites get ready for the ultimate duel."
The showdown at the Worlds between Bjoerndalen and "SuperSvendsen" was not to be. The young biathlete, whose Web site logo resembles that of Superman, was exposed to kryptonite - in the form of a common cold - that forced him out of all but one race at the 2009 Worlds in Pyeongchang, South Korea. While Bjoerndalen won three individual events, Svendsen could only watch on TV from his quarantined room. He got medical clearance in time to ski the opening leg of the final race, the men's 4x7.5km relay, and was able to celebrate with a cup of fruit champagne in his hand, a smile on his face and a gold medal around his neck.
Shooting for the stars
A born sharpshooter, Svendsen has improved his skiing over the years. Bjoerndalen's coach Joar Himle assessed that, as a junior, Svendsen was a more reliable shot than his pupil was at the same level. In an interview with NBCOlympics.com, Bjoerndalen added, "Emil is about the same age as I was when I entered the World Cup circuit. He's very talented and trains very well. He has really improved his feeling on skis." Svendsen's tenth career World Cup victory came only one year and 41 days after his first (Pokljuka, Slovenia in 2007). In comparison, it took Bjoerndalen three years to accomplish the same feat.
It's all in the cards
Prior to the 2009-10 World Cup season opener, held in Oestersund, Sweden, Svendsen paid a visit to a local tarot card reader named Marie, to find out what his near Olympic future had in store. After a few questions and an analysis of the cards, she told him that he would reach the podium at Whister Olympic Park, but could not promise a gold medal. Armed with a lucky crystal received during his visit that he kept in the pocket of his warm-up, he finished first and second in the two individual races in Oestersund, and second in the relay.
As the pilot for the USA-1 bobsled, I broke a 62-year gold medal drought when my sled, the 'Night Train" won the Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A degenerative eye condition nearly caused me to quit my sport in 2008, but corrective surgery restored my vision to 20-20.