The Greatest Mustache of The Olympics
A bronze medalist in ski jumping, a gold medalist in facial hair.
Robert Johansson became an Olympic bronze medalist in ski jumping on the back of a massive 113 meter jump that netted him 129.8 points, sailing from 10th place to a place in the history books at 3rd. His medal and his impressive performance would give him some recognition, but his mustache has been getting all the attention.
And rightly so. Just look at it.
Despite his already successful year, which started with a world cup team gold medal in ski flying in January 2018 and a bronze medal in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, Johansson’s route to the Olympics was filled with trials and tribulations.
He was on the verge of quitting in 2016.
Injuries and a breakdown
The early stages of his professional career saw him plagued by injuries and health problems. Among them, ankle issues, mononucleosis, and a lung infection.
Once his health improved, he returned to the ski jumping circuit, but without making an big impact.
After another unidentified health problem, he hit an all-time low. After a disastrous 2016 performance in Planica, Slovenia, he called his dad and said he wanted to retire from the sport.
His father urged him to keep going, digging up good memories from his son’s past. They agreed to give it a go for one more season.
That’s when things started looking up.
Increased motivation, professionalism, and a world record
A couple of surprise performances got him on the Norwegian national ski flying team. His motivation came back with a vengeance.
He even broke a world record (and held it for only 30 minutes, beaten by Stefan Kraft in the same tournament).
On the back of his improved performance, he started taking his career seriously. He started eating right, training right, and sleeping right.
(And he started growing his mustache.)
50/50 for the Olympics
However, the upswing didn’t make Johansson a shoe-in for the Olympics, according to national team coach Alexander Stöckl.
After a bad showing in Zakopane, Poland, the coaching team was presented with a dilemma. The final spot on the Olympic ski jumping team was between impressive youngster Marius Lindvik and Johansson, whose form had dipped.
“It was a long discussion. It was pretty close,” Stöckl said.
Eventually, they settled on Johansson.
The story of the ‘stache
Scouring through Johansson’s personal Instagram account, the foreshadowing of what would later be the greatest mustache of the 2018 Olympics came in November 2013.
However, he didn’t start growing the mustache until two-and-a-half years later. There’s a photo of the initial stages of the mustache from February 2016.
A few months later, Johansson revealed an early handlebar mustache.
Throughout the year, he kept teasing the mustache. Here, from November of 2016.
And from Willingen, in January 2017.
Two years after he started, the mustache had become worthy of a king.
Comparison to an icon
His glorious mustache has been compared to that of Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian explorer, scientist, humanitarian, and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Flattered by the comparison, but sober about his ambition, Johansson told VG that he’d much rather be remembered as someone who excelled in his field than remembered as someone who looked like Fridtjof Nansen.