What the Swedish ski cross ladies' A-team lacks in numbers it more than makes up for in talent.
While team veteran Anna Holmlund, with three career ski cross crystal globes and bronze medals from both the Kreischberg 2015 Freestyle World Ski Championships and the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, is the team's de facto leader, Sandra Naeslund - Holmlund's young counterpart on the ladies' team - may soon be giving her older mentor a run for her money.
Now 20 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.
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|