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Norwegian breaks world record for high-speed backwards skiing

 Norwegian breaks world record for highest speed skiing backwards.
Norwegian breaks world record for highest speed skiing backwards.

Downhill skiing forwards down the world’s largest ski jumping slope would be a challenge for most of us. So massive kudos to Norwegian skier Anders Backe who last week not only skied backwards down the Vikersund Hill ski jumping course in Norway last week, but managed to achieve a world record-breaking speed while doing it.

The 37-year-old pro skier hit 82.9mph (133.46 km/h), narrowly surpassing Elias Ambühl’s 81.3mph (131.2 km/h) record which was set in Switzerland in 2017.

The sport of skiing backwards is called switch skiing and Anders Backe’s switch speed skiing world record has been officially confirmed by Guinness.

In case you start watching the video an immediately think, “But hang on… he’s going forwards!?” be prepared for Backe’s impressive 180° mid-air turn to get him into record-breaking trajectory. (Ambühl used the same method for his attempt.)

In case you need some kind of comparison, when we’re talking about traditional forwards skiing, the record for speed skiing is over 158mph, but most recreational skiers travel at speeds between 10mph and 20mph.

Downhill racers typically hit 40–60mph, and Olympians tend to ski between 75mph and 95mph, depending on conditions, their equipment and their body composition.

With his latest effort, Backe is actually reclaiming a record he first set back in 2012, when he  achieved 79.9 mph in the same location. That time, though, he didn’t use the 180° mid-air turn to help him out, instead starting his run below the jump.

“This year it was more of pushing the limits on what is possible and maxing out the arena with adding the world’s biggest ski jumping hill to the in-run, and doing the 180° as an extra piece in there,” Backe told POWDER. “Really stoked that it worked out and really cool to be able to do it in my hometown.”

However, it took a few attempts to pull off the mid-air turn. On the first few tries he didn’t land perfectly and had to concentrate on staying upright rather than on achieving the record. But practice makes perfect and it all came together in the end.