by Chipp Reid
With three athletes in the top 10, Sweden’s men’s cross country skiers are set to take top honors among the nation’s skiers in World Cup events.
Daniel Rickardsson is tops among all Swedes in any World Cup skiing discipline. The 29-year-old cross country skier is No. 3 in the World Cup standings. Rickardsson is the No. 2 distance skier but his low standing in sprints—No. 23 overall—has him out of the running for the top spot.
Emil Jonsson holds the No. 6 spot in the standings. Jonsson, 26, is the top sprinter on the cross country circuit. The Swede has four victories in sprint races this season as well as a second-place. He has finished in the top 10 in every sprint in the 2010-2011 competition. His Achilles heel has been distance events where he's 36th in the standings.
Right behind Jonsson is Marcus Hellner. The 25-year-old from Gallivare is seventh in distance and 15th in sprints. Hellner has two wins on the tour this season. He won the 15 kilometer freestyle race in his hometown and was part of the 40 kilometer relay team that took the gold at another event in Gallivare.
On the women’s side, Charlotte Kalla is top Swede in cross country. Kalla, 24, who is from the very north of Sweden and now lives and studies in Östersund, is fifth overall in the standings. She is No. 6 in distance events and No. 15 in sprints. The next highest Swede is Anna Haag, who is 11th in the World Cup standings.
Swedish biathletes are doing nearly as well. Helena Ekholm is third in the overall standings, just 34 points behind No. 1 Kaisa Makarainen of Finland. The 26-year-old Ekholm has been on the podium nine times this season, including four victories and three second-place finishes.
Anna Karin Zidek is tenth in the World Cup standings. The 38-year-old has one victory and several top-10 finishes this season.
For the men, 34-year-old Björn Ferry is seventh in the World Cup standings. Ferry, in this 10th season as a professional skier, has three wins and a pair of second-place finishes this season.
Sweden’s alpine skiers aren’t enjoying the same success. There are no Swedish men in the top 10 in the World Cup. Andre Myhrer is 18th in the standings, the top place for a Swedish men’s skier.
Anja Pärson is once more the top Swedish female although she is a disappointing eighth in the overall standings. Pärson is fifth in downhill, Super G and combines but 37th in the slalom and 25th in giant slalom.