For the third time, the FIS Ski Cross World Cup went down this spectacular and long course at Crosspark Reiteralm (AUT) on Wednesday, 16 February 2023. We saw some nerve-racking heats down the 1.3 km long and challenging course with Sandra Naeslund dominating again on the women’s side and gaining her 36 world cup victory. Team Sweden was also celebrating on the men’s side, as Naeslund’s teammate David Mobaerg showed some constant good skiing and achieved his second victory this season.
16th win in a row, which means new record for Naeslund
In Thursday’s big final we saw world cup leader Sandra Naeslund (SWE) in red, Daniela Maier (GER) in green, Jole Galli (ITA) in blue and Marielle Thompson (CAN) in yellow.
The Italian Galli who only stood in a big final once in her career before was the outsider in this heat, as she was racing against the entire Olympic podium from Beijing 2022.
As in every single heat this day, Sandra Naeslund was pushing out of the gate with so much speed and pressure, that non of her competitors had the chance to keep up with her already in the start section. Naeslund was followed by Thompson and Maier and Galli next to each other.
Galli and Maier skied into the first turn together, when Galli pulled back and opened the door for Maier to ski the better line and get in third position. Except this situation, this heat was maybe the most clear and unspectacular run we saw the whole day. Naeslund skied her own race with a gap of about 20m all the way down to the finish, Thompson tried to keep this distance but also raced her own race as Maier was 10m behind her as well. Galli tried to keep up with Maier in the first half of the course but than also the gap between these two women got bigger and bigger till the finish line.
It was a start-finish race for all four athletes. Naeslund won for the 8th time this season, Thompson got second, Maier third and like in Idre, Galli had to accept the fourth place.
With this win, Naeslund wrote history again. It`s not only her 36th world cup win, but also her 16th win in a row. No athlete before her was unbeaten for such a long time. After her last win in Sweden, she was sharing this title with her compatriot Ingemar Stenmark who hold the record of most wins in a row for many many years now.
If nothing happens, it’s almost impossible to bet the Swede at the moment. On the question what her recipe is to be so strong in every single race, the sympathetic Swedish athlete said, she just loves what she does, and she is “skiing on a really high level right now” and also if she has a bad day, her “lowest level is really high”.
Hard battle on the men’s side with David Mobaerg winning through
What a race it was today on the men’s side of things. We saw a lot of battles and crashes and also one yellow card for the Austrian Graf for a contact from side causing a crash of world cup leader Howden.
The four athletes who survived all of their heats and showed some really good skiing the whole day and so stood in the big final have been David Mobaerg (SWE) in red, Bastien Midol (FRA) in green, Youri Duplessis (FRA) in blue and Kevin Drury (CAN) in yellow.
Mobaerg, the one with the fastest start was followed by the two Frenchmen Duplessis and Midol and Drury in fourth position. As with the women, there already was quite a big gap between Mobaerg and his prosecutors after the second turn. The other three athletes where really close to each other trying to catch the spots on the podium.
In the roller section after turn three, Drury cam so close to Midol, that he even touched his skies which slowed him down and resulted in a gap of at least 10 meters between him and the French athletes.
Before the last big jump, it looked like Mobaerg will win this race without noticing that someone is behind him, when suddenly Duplessis gained a lot of speed, closed the gap between him and the Swede and tried to pass him at the very last turn before the finish. But he failed.
David Mobaerg is taking home his second win this season. Duplessis who only stood on the podium twice before got second, Midol got third and the Canadian Drury got fourth in the end.
New and old World Cup leaders: Sandra Naeslund (SWE) and Reece Howden (CAN)
Next chance to battle for the podium spots for all qualified racers is on Friday, 17th February at 11:30 CET. Let’s see if one of the women can finally beet Sandra Naeslund and who will be the next four men standing in the big final.
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