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FIS Ski Cross Junior World Champs 2024 Recap

Apr 16, 2024·Ski Cross
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The FIS SKi Cross Junior World Champs 2024 unfolded on the same track as the World Cup finals three weeks ago in Idre (SWE), providing the perfect stage for young athletes to test and showcase their skills on the big stage. With no times available during the training days, anticipation grew regarding potential winners, with rumors favoring the strong German team. However, on the first day of the championships, the Canadian athletes dominated, leaving even World Cup head coach Stanley Hayer speechless. "I knew they were fast, but I didn't know they were so good on a big course like that," he remarked.

On the women's side, it was Emeline Bennett (20) who clinched victory, followed by Germany's Veronica Redder (19) and Sweden’s 16-year-old YOG champion Uma Keen, who had the chance, alongside the rest of the Swedish team, to have been coached by her role model Sandra Näslund during that week. Meanwhile, on the men’s side, it was a double sweep by the Canadians, with Kaleb Barnum (19) and Nicholas Katrusiak (19) taking gold and silver. The final heat was far from unspectacular, featuring a dramatic showdown in the last meters as the then-second-placed British Scott Johns crashed on the dragon back, dropping to fourth place, resulting in German Till Hugenroth( 20) seizing the bronze medal.

Nicholas Katrusiak CAN (2nd) Kaleb Barnum CAN (1st) Till Hugenroth GER (3rd)
Men's Podium
Veronika Redder GER (2nd), Emeline Bennett CAN (1st), Uma Kruse Een SWE (3rd)
Women's Podium

Both newly crowned champions expressed their surprise at their victories. Emeline, securing her second consecutive title in her second year of Ski Cross, remarked, "I didn't expect to win last year either, so I came in with the same mentality to work hard and do the best I could. This track is truly great for passing, which worked in my favor." For Kaleb, in his first season of ski cross, the transition from alpine skiing was made possible by great coaching and support. “I didn’t expect winning at all coming here. It's definitely a pretty tough field, and I didn't know what to expect as it's my first year doing this without having done any European cups.

Sharing the podium with his teammate Nicholas, who won the Qualifying going into the race, Kaleb expressed his admiration, stating, “Nik and I are on different teams back home, so we race against each other, but it's always a battle. He was definitely a role model coming into this race.” Kaleb hopes to continue his journey, aiming to ski in European cups and eventually make it to the World Cup, following his passion for ski cross inspired by watching athletes like Kelsey Serwa and Brady Leman compete at the Olympics. Emeline finds inspiration in Kelsey's good friend Brittany Phelan, “she came from the alpine side and that's sort of where I started, and she is a great person on and off the hill, and her riding style on the bike and on skis is always so composed. And then there’s of course from Whistler, Marielle Thompson, she has always been a huge part of our community, so growing up around that has always been amazing.” Even though she’s had the chance to compete in 2 World Cups already in Nakiska this season, she plans to take her Ski Cross journey step by step, targeting European cups before making her way back to the World Cup. Her ultimate goal is to be part of the Canadian team and compete alongside her role models. “The end goal is definitely to be on the World Cup; that's where I wanna be. All those girls on the Canadian team are so cool to be around so getting as much time as possible in that environment is what I always wanted.“ Kaleb eyes the European Cup as a stepping stone already looking ahead to the next Junior Worlds “In the future, I definitely wanna make team Canada and come back to World Juniors and do it all again.”

The second day saw the Team Event accompanied by best conditions with sunshine and featuring a perfect slope, this time with Germany emerging victorious ahead of Canada and a jubilant Team USA celebrating their bronze medal. The German athletes, Till Hugenroth (20) and Veronika Redder (19), already with a medal in the bag from the day before, fulfilled a promise made the previous year and claimed the win, marking an unforgettable day for them. “We didn’t expect this win, but funny enough last year after the Junior Worlds, we said to each other that next year something is gonna be possible and we’ll go get it together. I’m super proud it was a perfect end to the Junior Worlds, also with the weather, just perfect.” Stated Till, and his overjoyed teammate added, “I think this day today will stay forever”.

Till, who’s in his 4th year of Ski Cross, explains that he’ll keep on working in the European Cup but reveals that his teammate Veronika also in her 4th season will get a chance to prove herself on the big stage the following season debuting in Val Thorens.

What a thrilling season end for the SX world, celebrating these promising young talents from 15 different countries and hopefully welcoming them soon in the elite ranks.

 A big shoutout to the perfect hosts of Idrefjäll, it’s safe to say that this place has become a landmark in the exciting world of Ski Cross, and we are already fired up for what is in store for 24/25.

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