With only one week to go till the new SBX season kicks off in Argentina, Norwegian two-time Olympian Stian Sivertzen has finally hung up his boots after a severe infection he dealt with over the past 1.5 years makes it impossible for him to compete on World Cup level again.
“I have been fighting Staphylococcus aureus since October 2016 which doctors found out came from the stent graft in my aorta I have since my injury back in 2009.
I have done what I can to be able to compete again, and although my snowboarding is going really well doctors say it's too much of a risk. They can't really tell what kind of crashes I could take,” the 28-year-old from Kongsberg sums up the battle he finally was forced to give up.
Although he is known for his comeback skills.
Back in 2009, three weeks after winning Bronze at Winter X Games, Sivertzen horribly crashed on the course on which the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games medal race was staged on in 2010 fracturing his collarbone, pelvis and lower back whilst also tearing his aorta. He later went into a coma but recovered to reach the Olympics.
While the 26th rank might be disappointing for every successful snowboard athlete on the World Cup tour, it was kind of a miracle to see the Norwegian Viking back on the track again after struggling his way through four World Cup races in the 2009-10 season.
“It's easy to say, that the crash has been affecting me a lot. I was at a top level before 2009, but also after. I believe that if you work hard for your goals, you get paid whatever.”
It's this never-give-up attitude combined with his friendly and laid-back lifestyle which earned him a lot of respect on the tour.
What really helped him to get through all this downs was the importance to accept his situation and “then you work hard and play hard. It's all about having fun when snowboarding.”
In the end, it all paid off. Five years after winning his first World Cup race in Chile (2007), he stood atop of the podium at the World Cup finals in Valmalenco, Italy.
“That's for sure the highlight of my career”, he states. “It shouldn't have been possible at all as only three years before I couldn't walk at all anymore.”
One year later, he added a world championships Bronze medal to his palmares before missing out an Olympic medal at this second Olympic Games in Sochi placing fifth in the men's final.
“The Olympic Games have always been an important thing for me. I always wanted a medal. But those injuries took away my chances. But you know, everyone wants that medal. It's more important to know, that you had a good chance.”
Now, after 54 World Cup races, six podium finishes of which two were wins, Sivertzen might be retiring but doesn't want to fully turn his back to the scene.
“I will be missing everyone on the tour for sure, and all the good tracks FIS has been putting up.
When I started in 2006, the courses were really good. Now, in 2017 the courses are 1.000 times better but people still complain. Its important to improve, but everyone needs to enjoy more whats built for us.”
That said, he would love to give back, too.
“I would love to work with people. Hopefully someone wants me to build some new stars out there. My knowledge of boardercross is 10 times higher than what people think,” he smiles.