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Out skier Sandra Naeslund wins gold in women's ski cross

The No. 1 skier in the world entered Beijing as a gold medal favorite for Team Sweden.

Medal Ceremony - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 13
Sandra Naeslund is the best in her sport.
Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

Sandra Naeslund is continuing her dominant winter sports season with a gold medal. The out skier took home gold Thursday in women’s ski cross, making it the first time in Olympic history a non-Canadian has won the event.

Canada’s Marielle Thompson finished second, and Germany’s Daniela Maier finished third.

Prior to arriving in Beijing, Naeslund won nine of 10 ski cross World Cup races, leaving most of her competitors in the snowy dust.

She did the same Thursday.

These are Naeslund’s third Olympic Games. She placed fifth in Sochi and fourth in Pyeongchang for Team Sweden, and is better than ever following a 2020 knee injury that sidelined her for World Cup season.

Her latest triumph came Feb. 1, when she stretched her lead atop the World Cup standings after beating the competition by more than two seconds.

“It is a really tough course and it’s really heavy on the legs, but I am happy,” she said, per Eurosport. “With the final round, it was also a little bit rocky for me but I kept the lead, so I am really lucky.”

A little more than one week later, Naeslund is back at it. She’s one of at least 36 out athletes competing in Beijing, and one of Team LGBTQ’s best chances for gold.

Naeslund is open about her sexuality on social media, sharing a sweet picture with her partner on Instagram last fall.

At 25 years old, Naeslund is in her athletic prime. She was just 17 when she made her ski cross debut at Sochi 2014, making her the youngest member on the Swedish team.

Naeslund became the youngest ski cross world champion, male or female, in 2017.

“My goal is to keep being in the top and fight for medals. I hope to inspire young skiers to have fun and follow their dreams,” she said in 2016, via Olympics.com

Naeslund has kept true to her word. She was No. 8 in the world last year and finished fourth in 2018. A serious knee injury kept her out of World Cup competition in 2020, but she’s bounced back.

Naeslund, who lost her mother when she was just two years of age, embodies excellence and resilience. In other words, she’s a true Olympian, and a great rep for Team LGBTQ.

Team LGBTQ is 12th in the medal count with four golds.