Norwegian alpine skier Lucas Braathen is the one to watch this season. At just 20 years old, he has conquered his first World Cup victory in Soelden. While Braathen had an unconventional start to his skiing career – initially starting off playing football and starting skiing in his late teens – he has become somewhat of a rising star in the sport.

He beat Swiss duo Marco Odermatt and Gino Caviezel to take out his first ever podium at a World Cup event.  

“It’s a pretty good day,” Braathen told Austrian TV, “I knew that I was capable of a podium. First victory, first race of the season, it’s unbelievable.”

His previous best result was coming fourth place at the slalom in Kitzbuehel in January, but he finally made it to the top in his 23rd event in a World Cup. “I went for it. I am not here for fifth places, I am here for podiums,” says Braathen. 

Braathen started skiing relatively later than other professional skiers. Under the influence of his Brazilian mother, he had actually started off playing football in his early years. However, he soon learned that football wasn’t the sport for him. Braathen reflects on his time playing football in an interview with EuroSport , “So when it came to football, I was in my second year in school. I asked my dad, ‘Why am I so terrible? Why are all these kids so much better? I’m not scoring goals every time I get the bullet. Kids are taken away from me like I’m not contributing. Everything is super boring.”

But things started to make more sense when he began skiing. “I started off,  I was the worst at the race academy that I first attended and I just figured out I have to train my physical strength. I have to focus better and I think in that way the soccer grind kind of contributed to my grinding in skiing, from being the worst to one of the best at each team, so in that way, I’d say soccer did a lot for me, but I’ve also learned that soccer is not my sport.”

Braathen is a rising star in the world of skiing, proving himself to be a tough contender in Kitzbuehel and defying the odds by winning the podium in Soelden. It is refreshing to see such a young and hardworking skier rise to the top this season. While he may have started skiing later in life, Braathen’s confidence and determination have made him become one to watch.