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Norway: 2024 Pre-Season notes

Norwegian moose (Alces alces)

Norway’s got a tight, stoically flamboyant team. They seem merry and grounded; confident and on guard. Speed is currently Norway’s strength. Ragnhild Mowinckel’s on a HOF path; Kajsa Lie could run consistent DH T5/6 for a few years, then podium a couple more. She’s the real deal.

Re Tech, Mina Holtmann and Thea Stjernesund are admirably holding down the fort; we’ll consider them here. Kristin Lysdahl is recovering from injury and will get a close look in January. Her talent’s way unfulfilled.

These women are stylish, too, I must say. For all the fjords and antlers, the Norwegians cut sharp sartorial lines. (And it’s perfectly acceptable to lick one’s knife clean, or so I have read.)

Ragnhild Mowinckel

Mowinckel is a 3-Discipline Big Person. 2020 OFS knee injury interrupted an Overall title trajectory. She could pull off an SG title if she dropped GS and focused on the big hills. But I doubt she’ll do that, as her GS is exceptional.

Just a skeptical hunch, I guess—no reason if she’s still strong and motivated why another Speed podium can’t be snatched running three events. Bright and down-to-earth (though I suspect she wigs out when the wind is right), Ragnhild’s one of my very favorites.

2021-2023 EOS Overall & DH,SG,GS

2023 – 6th

DH 10th – 9 starts – 4xT10; 3xT20; 2xT25

SG 3d – 8 starts – 1st; 2x3d; 3xT8; 2xT15

GS 9th – 10 starts – 2nd; 4xT10; 5xT17

2022 – 4th. Shiffrin only other competitor EOS T10 in three Disciplines.

DH 6th – 8 starts – 2nd; 4xT8; 3xT20

SG 4th – 8 starts – 1st; 2nd; 3xT7; 2xT17; 25th

GS 7th – 9 starts – 5xT8; 3xT18; 25th

2021 – 29th Injury recovery season

DH 24th- 7 starts – 9th; 19th; 3xT30; 2xT35

SG 16th – 6 starts – 7th; 3xT26; 30th; 34th

GS 19th – 7 starts – 6xT20; 26th

2020 OFS

2022 Olympics – DH 14th; SG 6th; GS 5th; AC 4th. Excellent!

2018 OlympicsDH 2nd; SG 13th; GS 2nd. Superb. 2 x Silver. SG 0.89 behind winner in a berserk affair.

2019 Overall 7th. DH 23d. SG 5th. GS 6th. Odd, DH results dropping so. Otherwise excellent progress.

2018 Overall 8th. DH 8th. SG 10th. GS 4th.

Just turned thirty-two, I think Ragnhild’s in it through 2025. Another Olympic circus perhaps too annoying—though Cortina may be winter sports’ apogee insofar as a classic European Alpine venue may never again offer full-on wintertide conditions. Mowinckel’s at a fork in the road; she must take it.

She’s truly one of her era’s top racers. If 2024 yields another Discipline podium and T5 Overall, she’ll be back for 2025 Worlds. Paired against this is Life—if she wants to begin a university degree program, develop post-racing commercial options, et al.

Thea Stjernesund

Early prime beginning well, with remarkable Tech progress in 2023—doubling SL rank and 70% GS improvement from 2022. Turns 27 in November. Thea’s primed for elite Tech status on the tour. A medal each in 2025 Worlds and 2026 Olympics will anoint her a Huldra or a Nisser or other folky being skipping into hard-earned limelight.

2021-2023 EOS SL & GS

2023 20th

SL 14th- 11 starts – 4xT10; 3xT20; 25th; 3xDNQ

GS 10th – 10 starts – 2nd; 2xT10; 5xT20; 2xT25

2022 35th

SL 27th- 6 starts – 10th; 12th; 23d; 27th; 2xDNQ

GS 17th – 8 starts – 6th; 5xT20; 2xDNQ

2021 54th

SL 27th- 8 starts – 3xT20; 25th; 27th; 3xDNF

GS Unclassified – 6 starts – 4xDNF; 2xDNQ. Wow. Haven’t seen this on WC level. Injury? New gear?

2018 European Cup. Overall 6th. Last full EC season, for kicks.

SL 8th – 9 starts – 3d; 3xT10; 4xT20; 22nd

GS 1st - 9 starts– 2x1st; 2x3d; 4th; 2x8th; 19th; DNF. Excellent score card.

Entering prime. If she remains healthy and improvement continues per last two seasons (or even slows to a more reasonable level), she’ll EOS Tech T9/12 through 2025, and if she’s got the stuff, Thea will challenge Tech T6/7 until 2028. Globe podium breakout possible; ditto for Worlds/Olympic hardware. Will see if she’s a real charger.

Mina Fuerst Holtmann

Went nuts at 2015 Jr. Championships. Then a late summer training tib/fib fracture, followed by radically swollen calf muscle. (The muscle was butterflied to allow expansion. Yeow.) 2016 OFS. Within a couple months of returning to snow, a pinched nerve in her back scotched the 2017 season as well. Looks like injuries’ cumulative effects ended her Speed, at least for then/now/forever (?). Norwegian WAWC left legs are bedeviled.

Mina has a sunny disposition, AFAICT. Wrestle in the gondola; piss off a squatting friend; big fake teeth.

2021-2023 EOS Overall, SL & GS

2023 33d

SL 21st- 11 starts – 9th; 4xT14; 4xT30; 2xDNF

GS 18th – 10 starts – 3xT10; 13th; 2xT30; 4xDNF

2022 30th

SL 13th – 9 starts – 2nd; 2xT8; 12th; 28th; 4xDNF

GS 19th – 8 starts – 2xT10; 3xT15; 2x29th; DNF

2021 38th

SL 24th – 6 starts – 10th; 2xT14; 24th; 2xDNQ

GS 16th – 6 starts – 5th; 12th; 13th; 18th; 2xDNF

Including these peripheral events for fuller talent context. Strong EC Speed development ceased after 2015 tib/fib. Two total WAWC Speed starts: DH DNF; SG 29th. Real shame. 3/4 - Discipline talent/potential very promising.

2023 World Championships SL 4th; GS 6th. Nice work.

2015 Jr. Worlds DH 1st; SG 2nd; Super Combined 3d; GS 6th; SL DNF.

Treaded Tech water for a couple of years, but she turned 28 in July so has at least a few prime seasons to sharpen up. DNFs and T30s are bugaboos. That can be fixed. Excellent 2023 Worlds—Mina can beat Big People, with the pressure on. I’d reckon she needs to let ‘em run and have fun. 2022 redux—SL T14; GS T17—a sound goal for 2024. If there’s more talent to mine, it should emerge. I suspect her place on the A Team is secure. Gotta race with intensity!

Kajsa Lie

Top-notch Speed talent. Turned 25 in June, coming off a cracking DH season…and 2022 OFS with hideously-broken leg February 2021 Val di Fassa SG. Worst sports injury I’ve seen live, I think, not involving a motor vehicle. (Lorenzo Bandini Monte Carlo 1967 most horrible. Saw it on Wide World of Sports.)

To my eye, Kajsa has a relaxed/more upright style than most Speed people. Keeps her hands low. Very confident. Yawns in the starting hut. Knows where her next meal will come from if the canteen is barren.

WAWC EOS 2020-21; 2023. DH & SG

2023 26th

DH 8th – 9 starts – 1st; 2nd; 8th; 13th; 4xT30; 40th

SG 21st – 8 starts – 9th; 5xT20; 21st; DNF

2021 18th

DH 11th – 7 starts – 3xT6; 3xT18; DNF

SG 7th- 6 starts – 2nd; 3xT10; 2xDNF

2020 46th

DH 32nd – 6 starts – 11th; 2xT23; 28th; 2xDNF

SG 20th – 5 starts – 6th; 2xT15; 21st; DNF

2023 Worlds - DH 15th; SG 3d.

2018 Jr. WorldsDH 1st; SG 1st; AC 5th. Shows up for big races.

Lie’s on track for EOS DH top shelf via turning 4xT30 to 4xT15. Few DNFs. She epitomizes relaxed confidence which, I imagine, comes from knowing you’re really good and accept that hard work will be rewarded in good time. Perhaps just general Scandinavian coolness.

One thing’s for sure: Kajsa’s a Speed Gal. Not a single WC Tech start, and only a handful of EC Tech races, with T30ish results. At the FIS level 2018-19, however, Lie was lights-out GS—1st or 2nd every race; T5 every SL finish. So she knows the decisive divide between minor- and major-league Tech competition. Ragnhild is full-on 3 Discipline; I doubt Kajsa will pursue GS at this point, but who knows? Such a small team needs diversity/multi-talents. Mina and Thea will hold down Tech; Kajsa’s on Speed for seven more years or so.

I’ll peg Lie to repeat EOS DH T10 for 2024, and to regain SG form in T12 range. Odd that SG fizzled last year…more research needed. Looking further ahead, KL’s improvement paired with competition’s aging/retirement should mean reliable T7 through 2026, then podium/globe action for a few seasons hence. As always, health is the key. Kajsa Lie probably won’t reach Sofia Goggia’s level, but 30-40 Speed victory/podium finishes are totally within her career range.


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