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Sweden: 2024 Pre-Season notes

Swedish moose (Alces alces)

Two first-class Tech veterans and a super-exciting Tech youngster. That’s it for 2024 Sweden. Like Canada, Sweden has not an even semi-proven Speed entrant. (No Swede scored Speed points in 2023 WAWC season.) But, I guess, so what? If the talent’s not available right now, then at least the travel schedule’s easier to manage. Hector and Swenn-Larsson are classy, solid pros. Elfman’s a year or two, at most, from being an SL podium contender. See 1 June Feature “Riotous Youth” for my take on Hanna.

Sara Hector

Sara Hector’s 2022 season was a triumph, though she missed the GS globe by 27 points from Tessa Worley. Sara won GS gold at Beijing. For the WAWC calendar took 3x1st; 2nd; 2x3d; 12th; 14th; DNF on 9 starts. Tessa cooked 2x1st, 2nd, and 3d for podiums…but finished every race, 8th the lowest rank. (DNF! Can’t DNF!) It was a wonderful wrangle between two of the most popular/best-liked WAWC racers, and a recovery so deserved by Sara, who fought back from two knee injuries—2015 and 2020, with 2015’s nearly ending her career—enduring four years in the T30 and T15 Tech wilderness. Having turned 31 in early September, she’s sticking around for at least one more circus tour and I’ll bet 2025 Worlds as well, since those premier meets haven’t been so great.

2021-2023 WAWC EOS – Overall/Tech

2023 10th

GS 6th – 10 starts – 2nd; 3x3d; 4xT9; DNF; DNQ

SL 9th – 11 starts – 4xT10; 4xT13; 2xDNF; DNQ

2022 7th

GS 2nd – 9 starts – 3x1st; 2nd; 2x3d; 2xT14; DNF

SL 12th – 7 starts – 4xT10; 3xT17

2021 16th

GS 11th – 8 starts – 2nd; 3xT10; 2xT20; 28th; DNQ

SL 13th – 7 starts – 5th; 4xT14; 2xDNF

2022 OlympicsGS 1st. Oh Yeah. One Alpine event (Men’s SL – 0.61) had a greater winning margin than Sara’a 0.28 over Fede.

2018 Olympics – GS 10th

I imagine Sara will compete for a couple more years, since she endured so much to make it back into Tech’s elite. 2024 EOS GS T8/10; SL T12. I sense Sara’s slowly weakening, and key younger GS competitors—eg. Robinson, Moltzan, Gritsch—are gunning for Statement campaigns. Hector may have another EOS GS T5 up her sleeve, but I give it less than even odds. Also, she wants another crack at a Worlds medal. In any case, an A-team spot is hers for as long as she wants.

Anna Swenn-Larsson

Rock-solid SL specialist—EOS 3xT5, of last five consecutive T10 seasons. IMO, no reason to think 2024 will see significant decline or significant improvement. If she hasn’t beaten Shiffrin, Vlhova, Holdener by now, she won’t. (Has beaten everyone else EOS.) But hanging right in there. Turned 32 in June. If this season goes well, will probably run 2025 for Worlds.

2019-2023 WAWC EOS SL Broken ankle December 2020; OFS 2021.

2023 5th- 11 starts – 1st; 2nd; 2x3d; 4th; 3x6th; 3xDNF. Consistent, excellent finishes. Could have taken EOS 4th easily with one less DNF.

2022 10th- 9 starts – 3d; 3xT10; 2x11th; 3xDNF/DSQ.

2021 OFS – Injured

2020 5th- 6 starts – 2nd; 3d; 4th; 5th; 2xDNF. Covid-shortened season. One less DNF and could’ve had 3d.

2019 4th- 9 starts – 2nd; 4th; 4x6th; 2x7th; DSQ.

2x11th worst finishing positions since 2018. Pretty remarkable—very few racers don’t have a 20th+ stinker each campaign. Again we see how DNFs significantly affect EOS ranking. Anna’s finishes are consistently podium/T7. As a successful specialist, she can probably remain on the team for as long as she likes. Hanna Elfman may become Sweden’s best SL before Anna hangs ‘em up, but it’ll be close. 2024 EOS SL T8. 2025 season/Worlds success may inspire 2026 Olympic final curtain.

Estelle Alphand

Interesting starts record: EC 141; WAWC 101. Competes across series; I’m unsure how to evaluate. Broken ankle December 2018 per her OFS 2019. Only confirmed major injury I found. Late December 2022 Semmering (AUT) GS crash described as “brutal” and “nasty” didn’t end her season. Will be 28 all 2024 season. Two WAWC EOS T20 rankings, both GS: 2018 19th; 2020 20th. Hasn’t found a groove.

2021-2023 WAWC & Europa Cup SL & GS.

2023 WAWC SL – 5 starts – 2xDNF; 3xDNQ. GS – 9 starts – 2x13th; 2xT20; 3xT26th; DNF; DNQ

2023 EC SL – 6 starts – 3d; 5xDNF. GS – 4 starts – 9th; 12th; 22nd; DNF

2022 WAWC SL - 1 start – DNQ. GS – 7 starts – 14th; 3xT25; 27th; 2xDNQ. SG – 3 starts – 31, 38, 44, DNF

2022 EC SL – 3 starts – 8th; 2xDNF. GS – 1 start – DNF. SG – 2 starts – 2nd; 4th. Only podium.

2021 WAWC SL – 1 start – DNF. GS – 7 starts – 23d; 29th; 3xDNF; 2xDNQ. SG – 3 starts – 23, 31, 32, 2xDNF

2021 EC – No starts across Disciplines.

WAWC EOS T20 rankings

2020 GS 20th – 6 starts – 11th; 12th; 14th; DNF; 2xDNQ. (Covid-shortened season)

2018 GS 19th – 8 starts – 7th; 10th; 2xT15; 2xT20; 26th; DNQ.

2023 EOS GS was 25th

Estelle’s coaches must believe her GS will improve as her prime years unfold. Perhaps there were gear issues. Or maybe the Swedish WAWC pipeline isn’t carrying competitive prospects. Otherwise, it’s tough to see why Alphand is on the A team. Aside from sporadic respectable FIS and EC results, Estelle’s just not competitive nor progressing. I feel shitty writing this, but eight seasons at top pro levels with a single EC win and no WAWC podiums makes me wonder if her team spot could be better represented.

Moa Bostroem Mussner (turned 22 this August) finished 2023 EC Overall 4th, with SL 1st and GS 8th. Hilma Loevblom (turned 23 this August) was EC Overall 10th, with GS 1st. (No Swede scored DH points in 2023 EC season; Loevblom had 9 SG points. Speed’s definitely a forlorn category.) Loevblom made 13 WC GS starts in 2023, and took a 13th finish. Mussner had an SL 17th finish last season on the senior circuit. So there are two young people who, if they split/alternated WAWC Tech starts, might well end 2024 a few decisive steps closer to WC viability.

In any event, hopefully Estelle will reclaim EOS GS T20, with a couple of T12s, and prove the grumbly old man wrong.


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