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Rising Stars: Who Will Triumph at the FIS Ski Cross Junior World Champs 2024

Apr 12, 2024·Ski Cross
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Even though the Ski Cross World Cup bid farewell to the 23/24 season just over 2 weeks ago here in Idre, the rising junior athletes are seizing a final opportunity to showcase their talents this weekend on the same track as their idols. The Junior World Championships are set to unfold on Sunday, April 14th, and Monday, April 15th, with 45 aspiring young men and 35 young women fighting for the title. 

It's time to shine a spotlight on two promising talents, Uma Kruse Een from Sweden and Niklas Höller from Germany, both of whom clinched victory at the Youth Olympic Games in January this year and both brimming with eagerness to triumph once again. 17 year old Niklas is looking forward to the Junior Worlds: “Winning at YOG has given me some confidence, knowing I'm currently the best '2006 and younger Ski Crosser in the world. However, I'm also aware that there are older competitors who are better, but I'll do my best to compete for victory.”

While Uma has already left her mark with an impressive top 10 ranking in the World Cup, Niklas is still vying for his place and is driven to do so. "Being the best '06er and younger in the world is confirmation that I have the potential to perform well in the World Cup someday," Niklas affirms, his gaze set firmly on future triumphs.

On the other hand, Uma shifts her focus towards the invaluable lessons garnered from the Youth Olympic Games, emphasizing the holistic learning experience. "In my experience, the YOG was really fun and a big competition like this, you learn how to deal with pressure and improve, but I mostly think I have learned the intricacies around competing, such as preparation and what it takes to be the best in the world, and I believe that will aid me in the future.” 

Reflecting on her aspirations, Uma shares, "My goals for the future are to be part of the world's elite ski crossers and achieve notable results in the World Cup. One of my dreams is, of course, to win the globe; it's like a dream that I have. But in the near future, I hope to elevate my skiing and lay a foundation to reach as high as possible, focusing not solely on results.

When asked if she’s feeling any pressure to winning at home in Idre she says: “Of course having competed in the World Cup on this course gives me a little bit of an advantage but nothing crucial the other girls will do really good as well. My biggest pressure is the one I put on myself not what other people think, I am only 16 and have a long future ahead of me.

Uma's talent seemingly runs in the family, inherited from her father, who dabbled in Ski Cross for fun, sparking Uma's interest in the sport at the same time she startet alpine skiing back in 2021 at the age of 13. Her versatility, stemming from her previous pursuits in Slopestyle, highlights the strength of Sweden's formidable Ski Cross team. It appears that being a freestyle skier is the secret ingredient behind Sweden's success in Ski Cross. Current overall World Cup Winner David Mobärg and his brother Erik who also won 2 World Cups this season, used to be found playing around in the park before switching to Ski Cross, no wonder they and of course Sandra Näslund are an inspiration for young Uma “my biggest Role model is Sandra Näslund because the way she skis and her technique is absolutely astounding, its crazy to watch, she always gets the timing so good. Of course I am also watching the boys because they are faster so if I can do what they are doing hopefully I can get faster too and off course the Mobärg brothers are really fast so I watch them a lot.” Says the girl with a good eye for speed and love for adrenaline.

Niklas, on the other hand, follows a more traditional path, rooted in Alpine skiing since the age of 6, drawing inspiration from his idol Felix Neureuther. When queried about his most admired figure in Ski Cross, Niklas remains steadfast in his choice within the German team. "I really admire Florian Wilmsmann, currently the best German ski crosser; there's still a lot to learn from him. My biggest dream is to someday become an Olympic champion and bring home the gold medal," Niklas shares, his aspirations fueled by the allure of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where his fascination with the sport was ignited.

As for his anticipated adversaries in the upcoming weekend's competition, Niklas's focus once again centers on the German team. It appears that the young German Ski Cross squad will be the ones to look out for. 

The distinction between the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) and the Junior World Championships lies in the broader spectrum of competition that young rising stars encounter. At the YOG, athletes face adversaries within their age group, while at the Juniors, they contend with competitors from 16 up to 20 years old. Their skills will face scrutiny during Saturday's official training, marking their first encounter with this elevated level of competition. The junior champions will be crowned on Sunday, providing an immediate opportunity for some athletes to seek redemption in the team event scheduled for the same day.

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