Learning from the best

As part of the Athlete365 Lausanne, the ‘Chat with Champions’ series at the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) sees some of sport’s most successful winter Olympians share their experiences and provide expert advice on what it takes to make it to the top.

  • IOC president Thomas Bach took questions from a number of young athletes
  • Joining the president were Olympic medallists Kikkan Randall, Sandro Viletta and Emma Terho
  • Topics covered included proudest moments, forging a career in sport and sporting inspirations

The third Chat with Champions event at Yodli Café in the Youth Olympic Village featured a stellar lineup including IOC president Thomas Bach and three Olympic medallists: American cross-country skiing champion Kikkan Randall, Swiss Alpine skiing champion Sandro Viletta and two-time ice hockey bronze medallist Emma Terho of Finland.

Playing with pride

Billed as an open discussion, the young athletes in attendance at the packed Café posed a range of questions to the panel – with the president himself on hand to recall the proudest moment of his sporting career.

“I was lucky enough to win Olympic fencing gold, so that was my proudest Olympic moment,” Mr Bach said. “But I also remember the World Championships the following year. We were up against the Italians and they were leading 7-1. Nobody in the history of fencing had come back to win from that position before, but we turned it around and won.”

Olympic obsession

As for Randall – who currently sits on the IOC Athletes’ Commission and has overcome breast cancer – the overwhelming desire to forge a successful sporting career meant she was never tempted to take up a more traditional occupation.

“I knew I wanted to go to the Olympics when I was five years old,” she explained. “I remember watching Calgary 1988 and deciding it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I’m so glad I set myself big goals because even though at times it seemed like those goals were out of reach. by building a plan on how to get there my dreams came true.”

A new generation

Like Randall, Terho is a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. While young athletes are often inspired by sporting figures such as the Finn, she herself views today’s generation of young sports stars as role models.

“There are lots of different examples,” she said. “Skateboarder Leticia Bufoni inspires young girls in different parts of the world to be active and chase their dreams. I also think Serena Williams is inspirational for coming back after having a child, especially because I’m a mother myself – it’s not easy.”

“When I see athletes on the slopes today, it’s an inspiration for me,” Viletta concludes. “Alpine skiing is such a beautiful sport that anyone can do. I just wish I was 15 years younger so I could do it all again! It’s an inspiration to see the passion at the YOG over the past few days.”

Did you miss this Chat with Champions session? No worries, we’ve got you covered. There are more sessions in Lausanne on 18 and 19 January from 8-9pm in the Yodli Café, and 19 January in St Moritz.