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Monday, June 18, 2012
Meet Emma Dahlstrom


Summer suits Emma Dahlstrom. The 19-year-old wracked up frequent flier miles this winter, jetting around North America and Europe for Winter X Games in Aspen and France, Nine Queens, and a win in big air at the AFP World Championships, to name a few. Now she's happy to be home in Torsby, Sweden, hanging with family and mountain biking. But the off season's expiration date looms: Dahlstrom heads to New Zealand in July with Olympic qualification in her sights. She spoke to ESPN about the Swedish freeskiing scene, Jon Olsson's alma mater, and planning for next winter.

So, what's home like?
I'm from a small town in the west of Sweden. It's all beautiful forest and a lot of lakes. As I kid, it was mostly boys in my neighborhood. I hung around with them and that's how I got into extreme sports. It just gives me happiness. It's a different way of being with friends. You push each other. I like to push my limits and see where I can go. I'm an adrenaline junkie.

How did your skiing get to where it is today?
I started to ski at my home mountain but the park was not super good. I built my own jumps, and I thought it was so much fun. I started searching how to get into it and found this high school an hour from my house. Jon Olsson was going there at one point, he started on the alpine line and he was one of the guys that got into freestyle skiing there. It's located at one of the best parks in Sweden, Klappen. I thought, that's what I'd love to do. We skied three times a week the whole winter. Everyone who went there was so focused on skiing. That's why I progressed so much in three years.

Sweden has produced many men who are successful in freeskiing. What makes it a good place for freeskiers? And where are all the girls?
I think it's the freedom. The parents let us do what we want. The parks are pretty good, and they are always trying to improve them. Klappen is a pretty small park, but the features are pretty good, so even though it's small you can progress a lot. It's definitely been a lot of guys doing the sport in Sweden as long as I can remember. I was the only girl at the mountain when I started, and it's been like that mostly the whole time. I met [freekskier] Maria [Bagge] three years ago, and I thought it was so much fun to find another girl doing the same thing as me.

You have a girls' webisode that you put out.
Yeah, I made the "Shred O'Rama" webisodes with Maria and Nina Rusten because there are so many guys but not many girls doing webisodes. We thought something was missing, and we'll do it again next year. We'll try to have different locations and show the lifestyle of what we do and how we progress.

How are you preparing for the Olympic qualification process, which is starting soon?
I'm getting support from the Swedish national team with physical training and trampoline training, which helps a lot. It's awesome that our sport is getting more attention because I think we deserve it. When I started, X Games was the goal. It still is -- I want a medal there. But the Olympics are so big you just have to go for it.

Next season starts now in New Zealand. Are you ready for that?
A lot of girls and guys ski way longer than me -- they're skiing right now. I stopped after WSI and I'm taking three months off. It's perfect for me to focus on physical training and get fit for the winter. I'm so focused on skiing right now. I will try to play down the aggression in my tricks so I have more control there, and focus on style and switch tricks as well.