For all the ways brother and sister Brun Kjeldaas are alike, why do they claim to be so different? Both grew up in Kongsberg, a small town outside of Oslo, Norway. They started riding in 1991, within a month of each other-Stine, 23, teaching Arild, 21, for a few days until she says he began to teach her; both of them pushed by their ripper peers, including Stine’s then boyfriend (and co-Olympic silver medalist) Daniel Franck. Both competed on the World Cup and won their respective divisions in the first halfpipe contest they entered. Both are on the Norwegian national team and exude that country’s specific brand of fluid, freestyling grace.
“We’re completely opposite,” Stine insists. “He’s always skeptical. I’m always positive, looking at everything like it’s going to be fun. I’m more competitive than he is, it’s in my nature to want to do my best. I always put up goals and try to reach them no matter what. He’s mellower, I guess-more relaxed.”
Their differences don’t make for familial friction, however. “We never argue, almost never,” Arild remembers. “We’ve always been pals. We never hit one another. I think we’ve only fought about two times.”
What brought them together was snowboarding-having fun riding together almost every day. And being together during the traveling that goes with competing is a lot like long vacations taken with their parents. One activity, a pair of attitudes-Arild, a quiet freerider who competes for sponsorship; and Stine, among the world’s best in halfpipe, she would rather be freeriding.
Where they stake out contrary positions is understanding in place of rivalry. That must be what it means to be family-doubles their chances, really, because there’s one subject Arild knows they agree on: “I always hope she does good, she hopes I do, too.”
Brun Kjeldaas’ mother Kari runs a dance studio and has trained Stine since she was young: “When my husband Vider and I heard Arild and Stine wanted to do competition, we thought they were crazy-then they both won. We were there watching-Arild won the juniors’ division, Stine won the class for girls. It was quite a shock to us, we were both very proud. It was very funny, the next day they were Norwegian champions and we were floating in the clouds.”
On Stine in the Olympics
“I couldn’t watch, I didn’t have the nerve. The house was filled with people, Norwegian television was filming them watching, and I was sitting up in the bathroom. I heard their reaction and ran down. They told me how it was and I ran back up in the bathroom for her next run. I had no nerves to watch until it was over.”
-Kari Brun Kjeldaas, mother
“All the guys from home were here at about four in the morning watching the Olympics, flags and everything. I was proud of her, that was pretty nice. My little big sister!”
-Arild Brun Kjeldaas