#YOGjourney: Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen follows in grandfather’s Olympic footsteps in PyeongChang
More than six decades after Asle Sjåstad competed in the Olympic Winter Games, Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen this week achieved her dream of becoming the second Olympian in her family when she represented Norway in PyeongChang.
The Olympic Winter Games have always been special to Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen’s family. Her grandfather, Asle Sjåstad, represented Norway in Alpine skiing at the Olympic Winter Games Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956, and Tiril has dreamed of following in his footsteps since she was a young girl.
Asle passed away in 2009, meaning he never got the chance to watch his granddaughter win halfpipe silver at the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Innsbruck 2012 – the first step on her journey to become her family’s second Olympian.
Tiril came close to realising her childhood dream at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, but injury cruelly forced her to withdraw before the event started. On 17 February, however, she finally achieved her goal as she took to the snow at Phoenix Park to compete in ski slopestyle at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Here, the 22-year-old tells olympic.org about her #YOGjourney…
How does it feel to finally realise your Olympic dream, six years after winning silver at the Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012?
“I’m so pleased and relieved. It’s been a long and bumpy road [since Innsbruck]. I was almost sick with nerves before my first run here and I didn’t even know what I was doing; it felt like I almost blacked out! There wasn’t any flow at all. But then I put it together in my second run and I was so happy to make the final. I had to go home after only one training run in Sochi but the day after that I was already saying, ‘My road to PyeongChang starts here’. So to finally be here now feels kind of crazy.”
You finished ninth in the final after qualifying in second place. Were you disappointed not to perform at your best?“I actually feel really good. I’m really happy. Of course, I love winning and standing on the podium, but it’s not always easy. You have to put a good run down and unfortunately that last jump just got the better of me. I’m still happy. It was a great day, a great competition and I’m super pumped to see all the girls do so well; it’s cool to see the progression in our sport and to be a part of that.”
How would you sum up your Olympic experience?
“It’s amazing. The road here has been so long and so bumpy, with a lot of ups and downs, so just being here is like winning a gold medal for me. I’ve been enjoying everything about this experience; it’s been super fun. I’m glad I made it here. We’ve been running around in the Olympic Village, collecting pins, eating ice cream every day! We’ve been having a lot of fun. I’m sad that it’s coming to an end because it’s been great to see so many other athletes and all live together. It’s been really cool and I’m going to miss that.”
Did competing at the Winter YOG help prepare you for what the Olympic Winter Games would be like?
“Yes, it was pretty similar to what it’s like here, just a little smaller. It was the same vibe though and it was a good experience. It was one of the first big international contests that I competed in and it was cool to travel with other athletes and hang out in the Olympic Village, just like we’ve done here.”
You’re now the second Olympian in your family, after following in your grandfather’s footsteps. How does that feel?
“It’s crazy. I always think about him and want to show him how good I am. I also really wanted to do better than he did in the Games! I wish I had a medal, but I finished ninth, which was higher than he finished [in 1956] so now I’m officially the best Olympian in my family! I doubt he would have ever understood what slopestyle skiing is all about, but I think he would have been really proud.”