Being on the World Cup tour since 1996 when she competed in her first parallel slalom in Tignes (FRA), Nicolien Sauerbreij (NED) has emerged as one of the top female race boarders over the past years.
A fact, which is not only notable due to the fact that the 1979 born comes from a country with no mountains, the Netherlands; the De Hoef native was also forced to handle a lot of ups and downs in a long career which finally cumulated in the biggest success an athlete can dream of - the Gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver (the first Olympic medal for her home country out of speed skating and figure skating).
But the older sister of Marieke, who is also competing on the world wide staged tour, first had to experience one of her darkest moments which were also part of an Olympic history.
In 2006, the flag bearer of the 2002 and 2006 national team lost her eighth finals against later on runner-up Amelie Kober by only one hundredths thus having gambled away to proceed to the quarters after her German rival had to enter the second run with the maximum penalty time of 1.5 seconds due to a crash in run one.
In the finish, the defeated favourite was devastated, close to tears - but found the best possible answer to imagine.
After a poor 2007 season with a seventh rank in S. Vigilio di Marebbe, Sauerbreij, who is still coached by her father Marten, trained hard during the summer break, entering the 2008 season with two consecutive third ranks (Landgraaf and Soelden). Seven more podium results followed including four victories - this outstanding winter was crowned with the first ever Overall World Cup title for a Dutch athlete; some great result with more to come.
But although the carving ace, who speaks Dutch, French, German and English, became a major threat of all those riders coming from successful winter sport nations when hitting the parallel slopes around the world, there was always one thing missing: a medal earned at a major event.
Well, things changed in 2010 when the hard work of 14 years as a snowboarder paid off with the Olympic title. In addition, one year later, at the 2011 World Championships in La Molina, Nicolien finished as runner-up of the parallel giant slalom race also underlining her strength in the 2013 winter with a second rank at Rogla.