Elsa Hosk Is Maxim's February Cover Girl

The Victoria's Secret Angel spreads her wings in Las Vegas.
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The Victoria's Secret Angel spreads her wings in Las Vegas.
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The athletic training of Elsa Hosk, a former pro basketball player in Sweden, is apparent when she is in front of the camera: the intense focus, the commanding way her body performs, the transcendent magic of being fully in the moment. Hosk is warm and exuberant, an adventurous free spirit with a high level of physical prowess and discipline. She knows what it’s like to be knocked down and get back up again—and the knocks have only made her stronger. She thinks like a warrior and looks like a Nordic angel. She is, undeniably, a force.

You were born in Sweden. What was it like to grow up in a country that is mostly dark many months of the year?
Growing up like that, you don’t know anything different, so I guess you get used to it as a kid. It’s pretty intense now when I go back to Sweden after living in New York for seven years. The winters are so dark, you get to work in the dark and leave work in the dark—it can get pretty depressing. But on the other side of that, we have these beautiful summers where the light stays all day and all night. Swedish people live for the summer—it transforms everyone. I don’t want to miss having a Swedish summer vacation for as long as I live. It’s my favorite thing in the world.

You played professional basketball for two years, and you’ve said the intensity of the daily practices prepared you for your modeling career. Can you describe your mind-set before a game?
I’m so pumped before a game. I love the adrenaline. My brain is competitive. I get myself to a point where I feel like I’m going to explode! It’s so much fun. I can’t really explain it. I think I’ve always been like that. Playing sports is great when you’re young. It teaches you how to focus, how to direct your energy, how not to think about a million other things that are going on. I’ve been learning to box for the past three years. If you’re not 100 percent in the moment, you can be knocked out. There’s no time for hanging out in the brain thinking about stuff. You have to react from instinct.

Read the full interview with Elsa Hosk in Maxim's February issue, on newsstands January 27th, and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an issue.