For a 23-year-old, Maria Pietilae-Holmner has a lot of World Cup races under her belt (since 2002). With each season, the 2007 world champion silver medalist has become only more and more consistent in slalom and GS. Besides establishing herself as second in line behind compatriot Anja Paerson as her country's best, the Rossignol racer says she tries to take a good mood wherever she goes.
Born in Umea, Sweden, the technical specialist has a younger brother and older sister and began racing when she was 8 years old. She skied her first European and World Cup in 2002 but, after failing to qualify for the second run among the top ranks, stuck with Europa for a couple of seasons. Here, she found her place in racing, finishing 16th on home turf in the Are slalom in 2002, then breaking into the top 10 in giant slalom in Germany a few weeks later. At the end of the 2003-04 season, Pietilae-Holmner tried another World Cup back home in Are, where she found a new stride, finishing 15th in GS and also becoming national GS and slalom champ. In 2004-05, she accrued a series of top 20 finishes in both technical disciplines, including a 10th place on the charmed Are GS course. She kicked off 2005-06 with top 15s in the Soelden GS and in the Aspen slalom, which she claims is her favorite hill due to its technical and vertical challenges. She closed out 2006 with a handful of top 10s in GS and slalom and also landed her second national slalom title and the junior world slalom crown at Mt. St. Anne, Quebec. She carried her speed into the 2007-08 season, starting with ninth in the Levi slalom and fifth in the Aspen GS. 2007 proved a banner year for the young Swede, as she collected not just a couple more World Cup top 10s, but also the 2007 world championship GS silver medal, which she views as her most incredible achievement to date. Besides a light smattering of disqualifications and crashes, Pietilae-Holmner's results in 2007-08 proved just as steady. Though she didn't podium, she nabbed top 10 finishes in Reiteraim, Lienz, Maribor, Zagreb and Bormio, setting herself up for her best Cup season the following year.
Last season the Swede finished seventh in both the GS and slalom standings. Though she has said she isn't a big fan of the GS course in Soelden, Pietilae-Holmner kicked off last season with a sixth place finish there, then followed up with a second-place finish in the Levi slalom. The majority of her Cup results throughout the season were top 10. She only had one disqualification and her worst finishing result was in super G - which she tried out at finals in Are, placing 24th. Though the rest of her races were in only GS and slalom, Pietilae-Holmner closed out the season 13th overall and once again was national champion, this time in slalom and super-combined. Looking to repeat her medal-winning efforts, the Swedish racer will have her eye on the hardware in Vancouver.
Pietilae-Holmner's musical taste ranges from 50 Cent to Madonna and, according to her personality profile on the Rossignol site, she spends a large part of her free time dabbling in home furnishing.
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