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Kari Traa is a woman with a guy’s mind, according to herself. She is a courageous lady, and she isn’t afraid of anything. She thinks that’s why she’s so good today.
It’s January 11th, and God is up for a snowball fight. I’m sitting on a train station in Voss and waiting for Kari Traa, a well known mogul skier. We have agreed to have an interview over a cup of coffee at the local cafeteria. When she arrives at 12 o’clock sharp, my suitcase is full of snow. We walk down to the cafeteria and order two cups of cappuccino and two doughnuts.
Okay, are you ready? How are you today?
- I’m fine, thank you. I love to spend time here in Voss. It’s wonderful eating my mother’s food and skiing all day long.
Kari was born and raised in Voss and that is where she learned mogul skiing. Mogul skiing is a kind of alpine skiing, but the slopes have a lot of bumps and moguls, and the slopes are between 220 and 250 meters.
Why did start with mogul skiing?
- I think it’s because I’ve always been daring, and I love speed and power. I have been skiing all my life. I was seven years when I first started skiing in the slopes, and I was fifteen when I started mogul skiing. It was actually a coincidence. There was a contest in one of Voss’ slopes. I was watching, and one of the trainers came and asked me to join, so I said yes. After the skiing another trainer came and asked me to join the junior international mogul skiing team.
Wow, you must have been extremely good, I guess?
- No, not really. I think it was because I was daring. Mogul skiing wasn’t a very popular sport then, either.
Kari has always been daring, and she has done lots of “stunts” during her childhood. Once she went down an icy tractor road on her mother’s skates.
Were there any persons you looked up to when you were a kid?
- Yes, I loved Pippi Longstocking. Maybe it was because I was just as crazy as she is. I think I found myself in her. My mogul skier idol was Stine Lise Hattestad. She has always been a wonderful person and a great talent. She gave us newcomers some advices and was always friendly to us.
Your first winning was in Canada, 1997. Can you tell us about it?
- Well, I was number five after the qualification round. During the final heat, I was very calm. Actually, I was incredibly surprised when they told me that I’d won.
Can you tell us about your Olympic gold medal from Salt Lake City in 2002?
- I’d won five of six competitions, and I knew I had chance to win. The slope was extremely difficult and hard to get to know. Everyone did some mistakes, even I. my shoes were too tight, and I got a cramp. When I was done, I didn’t know anything. I was shocked when they said I was the winner.
Although Kari is a well known Olympic Gold medal winner, she has her feet on the ground. She is very friendly and easy to talk to.
- I try to be myself. I’m only a human, and an Olympic gold medal doesn’t make any difference.
Do you have any other hobbies than mogul skiing?
- Yes, I have! I love Parachute jumping. It gives you an enormously kick and an indescribable feeling. A lot of mogul skiers are parachute jumpers too. I think it is because both of them are a bit crazy.
Kari is also a well known leisure wear designer. Her brand is named Kari Traa, and they produce clothes for active girls and women.
- We don’t have any special inspiration, but we think it’s important to have comfortable clothes. The designers use happy colors, because I’m a happy person most of the time. There is no other female Norwegian sport stars with their own clothes, so that’s pretty cool.
Is there any special person who plays an important role in your career?
- There is one very important person: My coach through ten years, Lasse Fahlén. I think all my medals should be divided in two parts, and one of the parts should be sent to Lasse. I wouldn’t manage to do it without him.
My interview with Kari is over, and it’s time for leaving Voss. It has been a nice conversation, and I have promised to send Kari a copy of the interview. God is tired of the snowball fight, and the sun is setting. Voss is a lovely village, and I can’t wait to come back and try the slopes!