UNSW Ben Lexcen Sports Scholar Scott Kneller has won gold at the Ski World Cup in Italy.

The 21-year-old engineering/commerce student has become Australia's first World Cup gold medallist in Ski Cross.

A relatively new competitive sport, Ski Cross combines freestyle skiing and competitive downhill racing.

Scott, who is also an Australian Institute of Sport/NSW Institute of Sport scholarship athlete, crossed the line just 20 centimetres ahead of Switzerland's Alex Fiva with American John Treller in third.

Coach Matt Lyons praised Kneller, who rebounded from 19th place the day before on the same course.

"We talked about the need to wait for the right moment and race strategically, which is what he did to perfection," said Lyons, Head Coach of Ski Cross at Olympic Winter Institute of Australia.

Lyons added that he had always been a believer in Kneller, who had consistently shown world-class potential since switching to Ski Cross from alpine skiing.

Speaking about representing Australia at the Winter Olympics last year, Scott paid tribute to the assistance provided by the UNSW Elite Athletes Support Scheme. He said it was critical to his success and "allowed me to reach my goals".

"The program has provided me with the help and knowledge to pursue both my sporting career and university studies," he said.

"We are delighted for Scott," said Mark Lockie, General Manager, UNSW Sport and Recreation. "As an official Elite Athlete Friendly University, endorsed by both the Australian and the NSW Institutes of Sport, we have worked hard with Scott to ensure that he is able to chase his sporting ambition whilst maintaining his studies."

UNSW Sport and Recreation managed more than 100 elite athletes in 2010, including 22 Ben Lexcen Scholars.

Find out more about sport scholarships at UNSW's Elite Athletes Support Scheme.