Norwegian alpine skiing prodigy Lucas Braathen, who retired early this fall due to a conflict with his federation, will return to competition next season under the colors of Brazil, his mother’s country, he announced Thursday.

“I’m going to come back and represent Brazil. I am more than proud of it,” declared the best slalom skier of the 2023 season, who has five victories and twelve podiums in the World Cup at 23, during a press conference organized by his sponsor in Salzburg (Austria). .

The colossus with blond curls, passionate about fashion and music and very active on social networks, had sowed some clues in recent months, posting his New Year’s greetings on Instagram with a collar in Brazilian colors.

Thursday, he also doubled his announcement with two montages on his favorite social network, one to recapitulate his first part of his career with a “Tusen takk” (“big thank you” in Norwegian) accompanied by a heart and flag of his native country.

Twenty minutes later, he posted three self-portraits in the colors of Brazil accompanied by the message “The time has come, Brazil: let’s dance”, an allusion to the dance between the poles which is the beauty of slalom, this time in Portuguese.

The Norwegian federation authorized him to “transfer his points” acquired in the World Cup under his new sporting nationality, he explained, relieved to leave on good terms after a long conflict over his image rights, which was amplified in the fall when he participated in an advertising campaign for a clothing brand competing with the one that sponsors the federation.

Exciting return

After announcing his withdrawal from competition at the end of October, in tears, Braathen returned to Norway then took “a one-way ticket to Brazil”, near Sao Paulo where his maternal family lives, trying to forget “everything that was linked to sport and (his) career,” he said.

Initially comforted by the wave of messages from ski fans and his former teammates and competitors, he “gradually” found it “increasingly difficult to watch the races without being part of the spectacle”, and contacted the Brazilian federation, delighted with the windfall.

The exuberant champion represents an unprecedented chance for Brazil to secure its first podiums in the Alpine Ski World Cup, as well as at the 2025 Worlds in Saalbach and the 2026 Olympics in Milan-Cortina.

Also a talented giant, it was in this discipline that he won his first World Cup victory, at only twenty years old, in October 2010 in Sölden. He also experienced the first major setback in his career when he fell a few months later in the Adelboden giant, tearing the ligaments in his right knee.

The return of Braathen also promises to make the most indecisive discipline on the men’s circuit even more exciting, the only one not contested by the Swiss genius Marco Odermatt – undefeated in giant and leader of the super-G and downhill rankings.

Since the retirement of Austrian ogre Marcel Hirscher in the summer of 2019, four skiers have shared the following five slalom globes, that of the 2023/24 season going to Austrian Manuel Feller.