Swedish legend Stenmark likes Paerson’s chances in World Cup race{mosimage}Swedish skiing great Ingemar Stenmark will be the first to congratulate Anja Paerson if she is crowned World Cup champion later this year.

Stenmark, who won three consecutive overall titles from 1976 to 1978, has watched compatriot Paerson take the women’s season by storm, winning four out of five slaloms so far.

But he is not surprised at the progress of the 22-year-old who, like himself, was born in the northern town of Tarnaby. “She is really amazing and I’m sure that she will win many more races this season,” Stenmark, who holds the record of 86 World Cup victories, told Reuters.

“She is incredibly determined, it’s one of her main qualities,” he said. “I saw her for the first time when she was six or seven and it was obvious to me that she was tough and motivated. She is not only an excellent skier, but also very strong mentally and physically. I’m just lucky that she was not skiing in my years — she would for sure have been faster than me!”

After winning her fifth race of the season in Megeve on Monday, Paerson leads the overall standings by 233 points over Austria’s Nicole Hosp.

In finishing ninth in Sunday’s super G she also confirmed her capacity to score important points in the speed events, which further boosts her chances of becoming the first Swedish overall champion since Pernilla Wiberg in 1997.

“Anja is so powerful, I’d already said she would excel in the speed events two years ago,” added Stenmark whose victories all came in slalom and giant slalom. “She is a much better glider than me. I also raced in a few downhill races when I was young but I lost too much time in the flats. Anja can ski with much feeling. I was not surprised to see her doing so well in St. Moritz last month.”

Paerson was in sight of a memorable debut downhill victory in the Swiss resort when she missed a gate in sight of the finishing line.

“I discovered something new and extraordinary in St. Moritz when I saw that I was no longer afraid in downhill,” said Paerson. “I will try to compete as often as possible in downhill but mostly because it’s fun. It’s the best way to be fast too.”

With the women’s World Cup stopping off in the Swedish resort of Are in February, Stenmark is hoping it will be a homecoming celebration for Paerson who, on current form, could have wrapped up the title by then.

“I’m really proud of her and I hope she can make it,” he said. “It would be nice to celebrate her victory in Tarnaby at the end of the winter. I’ll do my best to be there, too, but I will be for sure in Are in February to cheer her.”

Article Tags: Alpine



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