Swede Naeslund breaks Canada's dominance to win women's free ski cross gold at Beijing 2022

(Xinhua) 17:09, February 17, 2022

CHONGLI, Zhangjiakou, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Sandra Naeslund from Sweden broke Canada's dominance in the women's free ski cross to win the gold at Beijing 2022 here Thursday afternoon.

Canada had never conceded the event's Olympic gold before.

The 25-year-old Naeslund, who finished fourth at PyeongChang 2018 but topped the World Cup rankings in the 2021-22 season, made a flash start in the four-athlete big final including Marielle Thompson from Canada, Daniela Maier from Germany and Fanny Smith from Switzerland.

In the final, which had almost been postponed by the heavy snow, Naeslund led from the start to the end but the chasers closely followed her throughout the duel.

"I did it. It feels so great," said Naeslund after the big final.

"I was feeling pretty good today, and the skiing was great, but it was hard with the snow. I didn't know what speed it would be each run, so that was pretty difficult," she added.

The 29-year-old Thompson, the champion at Sochi 2014, tried to overtake Naeslund several times at curves but failed and had to settle for the silver.

"The Olympics is such a different race every time. But the fastest girl won today and Sandra skied really well," said Thompson.

"I knew I was fast at the bottom and I knew I could do some single rollers rather than jumping, especially in this fresh snow, so I just stuck with it, didn't give up till the end," she added.

The bronze went to the 25-year-old Olympic debutant Maier, who finished the run in the fourth place but the third finisher Smith, the bronze medalist at PyeongChang 2018, was judged a foul near the finish line later.

The other three Canadian elites, PyeongChang 2018 silver medalist Brittany Phelan, Courtney Hoofos and Hannah Schmidt finished fifth to seventh from the small final.

"I've been skiing well all week, so not making it to the big final is really tough," said Phelan.

"Lots of disappointment not getting into that big final. I'll be back in 2026," she added. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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