KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Henrik Kristoffersen grew up skiing under the lights in Raelingen, where darkness draws in early and his grandfather keeps a key to the chair lifts.
Those floodlit nights in his Norwegian home town prepared him for the Olympic spotlight.
The 19-year-old became the youngest men's Alpine medalist in Winter Games history, taking bronze in slalom Saturday by mastering a second-run course that tricked many more experienced rivals.
Showing uncommon poise and technique, Kristoffersen raced down the steep slope and up the standings after being just 15th fastest first time down the Olympic hill.
"I thought the medals are gone so I have to just ski good and not embarrass myself one more time," the teenager said, with self-mocking humor. "I was pretty smart, I think. I'm only smart when I'm skiing."
Kristoffersen's name joins an illustrious list which has made a nation obsessed with cross-country skiing into a genuine Alpine power at the Winter Games.
Kjetil Andre Aamodt. Lasse Kjus. Aksel Lund Svindal. Kjetil Jansrud.
All have at least three Olympic medals, including gold, since 1992. In that year, at the Albertville Olympics, Aamodt's gold in super-G gave Norway its first Alpine medal for 40 years.
"I feel a little bit part of it and I hope it's just the start," Kristoffersen said of Norway's tradition.
Entering this Olympic season, Kristoffersen was not even part of Norway's traditional success on the World Cup circuit.
That changed in November when he placed third in a slalom won under the lights at the Arctic Circle town of Levi, Finland. Kristoffersen shared the podium that day with Austrians Mario Matt and Marcel Hirscher, respectively the gold and silver medalists Saturday.
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