For Ironman World Champion Gustav Iden and Olympic Champion Kristian Blummenfelt, battling conditions, fatigue, and fierce competitors are all in a day’s work. Yet, facing gods, monsters, and giants in a mythical triathlon realm was an experience reserved for their animated counterparts – until now.
In a creative leap by sportswear company On, the Norwegian champions swap their real-life challenges for mythic trials in a captivating animated short film. Titled “Tri-Kings,” the film reimagines the pair as Viking triathlon legends, “Kristian the Unstoppable” and “Gustav the Great.” As they journey through a fantasy Norse world, they encounter siren songs, racing chariots, living forests, and a run amidst the clouds.
The melding of Norse mythology and triathlon is a result of the combined genius of Creative Director Simon Brotherson and famed animator Yibi Hu. The film stands out with its blend of 2D animation and 3D motion capture, a fusion that brings the Viking-inspired triathlon to thrilling life. “We wanted to reflect a true triathlon experience,” said Hu, emphasizing the dichotomy between a spectator's calm watch and an athlete's chaotic race.
This fresh storytelling perspective isn’t just for the sake of creativity. On’s Sports Marketing Lead, Gessica Giulini, mentioned that the aim was to step away from traditional sports content, making triathlon more appealing to a diverse audience.
Brotherson admitted, “There was an abundance of scientific content on Gustav and Kristian – mostly revolving around their Norwegian Method of training. But we thought, ‘Why not have some fun?’” Referring to them as Vikings isn't entirely fictional, given their fierce competitiveness and Norwegian heritage.
Both athletes had nothing but praise for their animated adventure. Iden shared, “I’ve participated in numerous film projects, but this? Nothing matches up. I've always been a fan of Norse mythology.” Blummenfelt echoed his sentiments, emphasizing the parallels between the resilience of a Viking and that of a triathlete.
The real-life dynamics between the two athletes enhances the film's narrative. They've been fierce competitors and training partners, with the same coach and hailing from the same town. This connection is evident in the film, where they cross the finish line together, hinting at their much-anticipated showdown in Paris in 2024.
A glance at their credentials tells you just how dominant they are in the world of triathlon. Blummenfelt’s achievements include a gold at the 2020 Olympics and the 2021 Ironman World Championships. In 2022, he shattered records by completing an Ironman-distance triathlon in under seven hours. Meanwhile, Iden, the 2022 Ironman World champion, has won the Ironman 70.3 World Championship twice.
So while “Tri-Kings” might be a fantastical retelling, it's grounded in the genuine camaraderie and grit of two of triathlon’s brightest stars. The film serves not just as an animated adventure but a testament to the sheer willpower and strength of these athletic giants. Norse gods, fictional races, and sea monsters aside, their real-world achievements remain just as legendary.