With her win at the Sierra Nevada 2017 FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships Sweden's Sandra Naeslund became her nation's first ski cross world champion and, at the age of 20 years old, one of the youngest Freestyle World Champions ever. And Naeslund's result, along with a gold medal in the men's Sierra Nevada for her teammate Victor Oehling Norberg, vaulted the small Swedish team to the top of the ski cross world heading into the 2017/18 season
Now 21 years old, Naeslund broke onto the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup scene in 2012/13 at the age of 16, taking "Rookie of the Year" honours that season with consistently strong skiing and several finals appearances. The next season she stepped it up several notches, scoring her first two World Cup podiums and closing out the season with six top-10 results in the final seven events.
In 2014/15 she started right where she had left off the previous season before her winter was cut short by a bad crash suffered in Val Thorens - the site of her first podium the year before. Undeterred, Naeslund spent the next several months fighting back from the injury, showing up for the 2015/16 season better, faster and stronger than she been ever before.
And boy did she prove it, finishing in the top-10 in every event of 2015/16 save for the first competition of the year, while registering four podiums and a pair of small final (5th place) wins to go along with it.
The 2016/17 season saw Naeslund rise all the way to second overall on the final ski cross World Cup standings after claiming eight podiums in 12 competitions, including the first two victories of her World Cup career. With 2016/17's top athlete Marielle Thompson (CAN) out of the picture for the foreseeable future with a knee injury, 2017/18 could be the year that Naeslund adds a crystal globe to her growing collection of awards.
Reserved and quiet, it can be easy to miss Naeslund when she's off the slopes. However, once she pulls out of the start gate and gets to slicing her way down the course she's impossible to miss. In 2016/17, expect to see a lot of the rising star of the Swedish team.
|1609625.01.2014||Ski Cross||Kreischberg||AUT||World Cup||11||240.00|
|1608817.01.2014||Ski Cross||Val Thorens||FRA||World Cup||8||320.00|
|1608716.01.2014||Ski Cross||Val Thorens||FRA||World Cup||2||800.00|
|1608615.01.2014||Ski Cross||Val Thorens||FRA||Qualification||2||40.00|
|1606222.12.2013||Ski Cross||Innichen/San Candido||ITA||World Cup||16||150.00|
|1606121.12.2013||Ski Cross||Innichen/San Candido||ITA||World Cup||17||140.00|
|1606020.12.2013||Ski Cross||Innichen/San Candido||ITA||Qualification||7||18.00|
|1605515.12.2013||Ski Cross||Val Thorens||FRA||World Cup||16||150.00|
|1605414.12.2013||Ski Cross||Val Thorens||FRA||Qualification||23||4.00|
|1604707.12.2013||Ski Cross||Nakiska||CAN||World Cup||18||130.00|