2022 Ironman World Champion Gustav Iden and Olympic Champion Kristian Blummenfelt are used to fighting. They fight the conditions, the terrain, their own fatigue, or their opponents – but fighting gods, giants, and monsters in a fantasy world of swim, bike and run was a new experience for the two Norwegian triathletes… even if it is only their animated characters doing the fighting.
In On’s latest short film production, Iden and Blummenfelt are transformed into Norsemen of (Triathlon) legend and become the fearsome Viking warriors “Kristian the Unstoppable” and “Gustav the Great.” The triathletes-turned-Vikings must find the flame burning within themselves to succeed in a fantasy realm that includes formidable opponents and obstacles. With Norse gods watching on, sea serpents and sirens try to lure Gustav and Kristian off the course, mysterious charioteers give chase, a living forest stands in their way, and a perilous run amid the clouds has the Tri-Kings pushing themselves to unknown limits in pursuit of victory.
Creative Director Simon Brotherson and renowned animator Yibi Hu co-wrote the film and joined forces to bring their vision to life. The 2D animation process was combined with 3D motion capture technology to push the project’s technical and creative boundaries, resulting in a spectacular final product. In the same innovative way, old Norse mythology and animation aesthetic were seamlessly merged with the topic of triathlon, resulting in a fresh take and artistic choices that appeal to young audiences.
“With Tri-Kings, we continue our tradition of distinction with a world-class animation and live-action storytelling cross-over”, On Sports Marketing Lead Gessica Giulini says. “We drew on all the epic drama of Norse mythology to create something that breaks free from the conventions of sports content, making triathlon an engaging topic for a broader audience.”
“There was so much content out there about Kristian and Gustav, but most of it was scientific content – about their so-called Norwegian Method of training,” Creative Director Simon Brotherson explains. “So we said: ‘Let’s have some fun.’ Gustav and Kristian have been referred to as Vikings before – and they’re kind of fierce. So why not fully embrace that theme?”
Animator Yibi Hu recalls: “Simon and I had a long chat about how Gustav and Kristian race, their personalities, and their swimming, cycling, and running styles. We wanted to reflect a true triathlon, how athletes experience a race,” During races, the audience has a completely different experience than the athletes. From the outside, it feels calm. But for the athletes, it can be pure chaos. And when you’re racing in truly spectacular surroundings, the mountains and trees around you seem to come alive – either helping you or trying to hold you back.”
In the end, Kristian and Gustav cross the finish line side-by-side… and are ready to go again, much like in real life. They have been training partners for years, share the same coach and hometown, and often go head-to-head in races. The idea was for the film to leave fans waiting to see what will happen at the ultimate showdown in Paris in 2024.
“I had high expectations before I saw the film,” Gustav Iden says on the project. “I’ve done a lot of different film projects in the past, but nothing comes close to this. Norse mythology has grown quite a lot [in popularity] over the last decade because of various Hollywood movies, but I was a fan long before that. I am proud of my Norwegian and Viking heritage. Still, I don’t feel like a warrior most of the time. I was happy to have Kristian by my side.”
Blummenfelt could not agree more: “It’s us against the world. [The film] summarizes quite well what it feels like in real life – with some exaggerations, of course. How we have to fight these obstacles on the way. The important thing is how you’re able to deal with those and move on. It feels special to be portrayed as a Viking warrior. To be out there in the wild, no matter the conditions. That strength and rawness of Vikings is well represented.”
Kristian Blummenfelt is a professional Norwegian triathlete, Olympic and World Champion, competing at short course, half-Ironman and Ironman distances. He won the gold in the men’s triathlon at the 2020 Olympics and 2021 Ironman World Championships. In 2022, Blummenfelt became the first person to complete an Ironman-distance triathlon in under seven hours during the Pho3nix Sub-7 Sub-8 event.
Gustav Iden is a professional Norwegian triathlete and training partner of Kristian Blummenfelt. He also competes at short course, half-Ironman and Ironman distances and is the 2022 Ironman World champion. In addition, he won the Ironman 70.3 World Championship twice in 2019 and 2021.
“Tri-Kings” presented by On can now be seen at www.on.com/tri-kings.