Svedberg hopes to keep the wins coming at nationals

2014-03-10T20:00:00Z 2014-03-11T00:32:07Z Svedberg hopes to keep the wins coming at nationalsBy BILL BIGHAUS bbighaus@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Rocky Mountain College’s Frida Svedberg will ski into the national spotlight this week at the 36th annual United States Collegiate Ski Association championships in Lake Placid, N.Y.

It has been a swift ascent this winter for the 21-year-old freshman from Ostersund, Sweden, who will take a four-race winning streak into Tuesday’s giant slalom competition on Whiteface Mountain, which was the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics.

“I think I’m skiing pretty well,” Svedberg said before departing for New York with her Rocky teammates. “I feel like I’ve been enjoying skiing again. It’s getting more and more fun.

“Why is it getting more and more fun? I’m skiing faster. It’s a lot of fun right now.”

Sparked by her competitive spirit and consistency, Svedberg has already won a staggering 10 races this winter, including a sweep of the giant slalom and slalom events at the recent Western Regional Championships at Brundage Mountain, Idaho.

Her solid performance helped the Rocky women, ranked third nationally, qualify for the USCSA alpine championships, along with the top-ranked Battlin’ Bear men, for the 13th consecutive season.

“I love being on the mountain, putting the boots on and having fun,” Svedberg said.

Rocky’s men and women both finished second in the team standings last year at nationals and will be looking to build on that success.

While Svedberg’s individual victories in the GS and slalom have come at a school-record pace, her triumphs, along with her strong showings against NCAA skiers, also represent quite a comeback.

The business management and accounting major at Rocky has had to contend with the constant soreness associated with back problems, two surgeries to repair ligament damage on an injured right knee and the death of her father, Lars, over the last five years.

“So far, I love it,” a healthy Svedberg said of being at Rocky. “I didn’t know what to expect when I came here -- about both skiing and studying. Right now, the skiing brings a lot of happiness into my life.”

She learned a lot about the Rocky campus and the school’s strong ski-racing program from her boyfriend, Nils Hogbom, who won all of the individual titles at nationals as a freshman last March in Sun Valley, Idaho.

“She’s very dedicated to it,” Hogbom said of Svedberg’s skiing abilities. “She’s been working hard. I think the thing that makes her ski really fast now is that she really wants to chase (a national title).

“She’s that kind of person in everyday life, too. She wants stuff done. She always wants to do better.”

Svedberg and Hogbom grew up together in Ostersund. His father, Fredrik, was one of her early ski instructors.

Long before the wins began piling up at Rocky, Svedberg was enjoying big moments on the slopes.

She won the national junior championships in Sweden in the Super-G in 2009, and placed second in the giant slalom. That same year, Svedberg took home a silver medal in the slalom at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Poland.

However, with her back issues, the knee injury and the passing of her father, she momentarily stepped away from competition.

“When we had our first camp in Canada, I was a little bit worried,” Svedberg said of joining the Rocky team. “I was like 'OK, so what am I expecting for myself. How am I actually going to ski this year?'

“I hadn’t been in the U.S. skiing before so I didn’t know the competition.”

She feels at home now, and Rocky coach Jerry Wolf calls Svedberg’s comeback “an awesome story.”

“Her success is, you know, the old-school success,” he said. “It’s the hard work, put in the time and good things are going to happen. It’s all definitely paying off for her.

“She is very serious about whatever she does ... Very motivated on the hill, in the classroom and with the team.”

Wolf said he “would not be surprised” if Svedberg came away with multiple championships this week at nationals.

“It’s tough to make predictions on that given day what everything is going to be like, but she’s a gamer,” he said. “She’s solid. She knows how to push it.”

Rocky has never had a combined champion on the women’s side, or a national team championship.

“I think she thinks that would be pretty cool,” Wolf said.

Besides her Rocky teammates, Svedberg will be cheered on at nationals by her mother, Katrina. Her father, who died in 2010, will also be in her thoughts.

“I know he’s proud, and that makes me very happy,” she said. “I know my dad loved skiing, and he loves when it goes good for me.”

By doing her best at nationals, Svedberg is really looking forward to helping put the women’s team at Rocky in the forefront.

“We are going to nationals with the goal to win it,” she said. “It’s going to be fun.”

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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