I can’t believe I forgot about the dominant Estonian skier Kristina Smigun-Vaehi. For individual events (distance and sprint), her stats are amazing: three Olympic medals (2 Gold), four World Championship medals and forty-nine World Cup podiums. 106 of her 161 World Cup results were top ten finishes. She might not have as much Olympic hardware as a few of her contemporaries, but she always seemed to be in the hunt for a medal.
Of course, Smigun ran into a spot of trouble back in 2002 I believe, testing positive for steroids but was officially “cleared” by FIS when her B sample came up clean. Needless to say, a lot of people remained suspicious, which is par for the course when doping is involved. In any case, let’s take a look back at her career, distance races first:
As you can see from this mass of orange dots, being a super-fast skier from a nation with a tiny ski team means you get lots and lots of World Cup starts for many, many years. Smigun made a big jump in 1998-1999, but her breakthrough season was probably the next one. Interestingly, the 2000-2001 season stands out a bit as an odd one for her. She had some solid races early in the season but then had a pretty terrible World Championships and then didn’t really race beyond February.
The big gap is from a break she took to get married and have a child, I believe.
How about a technique preference?
How about sprinting? Smigun sprinted, but not a ton:
- <Career Retrospective: Rene Sommerfeldt
- <Career Retrospective: Sabina Valbusa
- <Career Retrospective: Claudia Nystad (Kuenzel)