Welcome to FasterSkier’s World Cup Preview, where we check in with the top-10 teams from last year’s FIS Cross Country World Cup tour before the season starts. The World Cup begins with a classic sprint in Ruka, Finland on Nov. 24th
Overall in Nations Cup Last Year: 2nd
Women’s Ranking 2017/2018: 2nd
Men’s Ranking 2017/2018: 5th
Swedes to Watch: She’s fast. She’s fierce. And she’s Swedish. While last spring gave rise to the retirement of many veteran cross-country ski names, 31-year-old Charlotte Kalla wasn’t one of them.
Kalla, who has been racing World Cups since 2006, is back for her 13th season on the circuit and not about to slow down. She finished last year, on a limited World Cup schedule, ranked seventh in the women’s overall, after securing five top three performances, two thirds of them victories.
Her singular focus remained peaking for the Games. She entered the 2018 season scorching fast, winning the the overall in the opening Ruka triple weekend. She won the following weekend’s 15-kilometer skiathlon in Lillehammer, Norway.
Kalla dialed back the racing in mid-December, did not race the Tour de Ski, and returned to World Cup racing on January 21, in Planica, Slovenia. She placed second in the 10 k classic.
Let’s just say she was primed for PyeongChang.
Kalla returned from the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games with four medals, two for individual performances–most notably a gold in the women’s skiathlon.
When not name dropping Kalla, the Swedes have plenty to look to in the remainder of their women’s team. There’s the ever shining sprint star, Stina Nilsson, not to mention the up-and-comer Ebba Andersson. In between those two, with the retirement of Anna Haag, there’s sprint power houses, Hanna Falk and Ida Ingemarsdotter. Throw in Anna Dyvik and you’ve got your female Swedes for the season.
On the men’s side, despite the retirements of Emil Jönsson, Martin Johansson and Marcus Hellner, Calle Halfvarsson remains a name to watch out for on course. Halfvarsson ended last season ranked 13th in the overall, with six individual top-10 finishes, four of those on the podium.
Then there’s the 36 year old veteran, Daniel Rickardsson, as well as the 23-year-old Oskar Svensson, who both landed in last season’s World Cup top-30 more than once.