Through the mountains and fjords of Norway, one name rings out above all others when it comes to athletics. Bjorn Daehlie was a cross country skier who won 29 Olympic and World Championship medals. Thousands of miles away, in the hills of Virginia, Bjorn's son Sivert is making a name for himself in soccer at Radford University.
Sivert Daehlie grew up like any other child in Norway, playing soccer in the summer and skiing in the winter, but life as the son of an Olympic hero meant extreme pressure during the winter months.
"Everyone skis. I was pretty good and had some good results, but I quit when I was around 14 years old," Sivert said of his cross country experience. "It was too hard to do both soccer and skiing. I think that I could have done either sport, but soccer is more social. Skiing is very one-person. It takes a special person to do all of the training alone, in the forests, by yourself."
Daehlie says his father never pushed him to ski, but the rest of Norway expected him to be a world champion.
"I didn't like the pressure. I got sick of that," he said. "In soccer, they recognize the name, but don't expect the same things as they did in skiing."
Daehlie (pictured left) played club ball at Nannestad VGS before he decided to pick up and move to America last year to compete for the Highlanders. In his first season on the pitch for BR-48 Radford, he racked up 13 goals and two assists in 19 games. Daehlie fired 54 shots — 28 on goal — and seven of his goals were game-winners. His 13 goals tied for the seventh most in the D1 men's soccer.
"Coming to Radford was a great opportunity for me to get an education and play good competition. We don't have that opportunity in Norway," Daehlie said. "It's definitely fun here. I enjoy playing soccer and the school is very fun and social."
He has had to adjust his game a bit to the American style of play, which he says is more physical.
"There is a lot more speed and strength here while it is a more technical style in Norway," he said. "I enjoy the physicality of it here. I like the game a little rough, so this style fits me."
He was named Big South Freshman of the Year, All-Big South First Team and to the Big South All-Tournament Team in 2015. The Highlanders went 14-4-2 last year, and made it to the NCAA Tournament where they fell to Charlotte 2-1 in their opening match.
Over the summer, Daehlie suffered an injury to his glute and has been rehabbing for the past few months. Despite limited playing time over the first two games of his sophomore campaign, he picked up the game-winning goal against Lehigh on Sunday while taking four shots with two on goal.
"I played a few minutes this weekend, but right now I am trying to get back in shape after being injured pretty much all summer. It's getting better and better. I'm feeling healthy now," he said. "I think we have a very good team this year and could beat anyone on a good day."
For now Daehlie is focused on the season ahead for the Highlanders (2-0). He still has three years of eligibility remaining, but in the back of his mind, a professional soccer career is his main goal.
Norweigans may have been disappointed when Sivert turned in his skis when he was 14, but they may not yet be done chanting the name Daehlie just yet.
Photo courtesy Radford Athletics