A family affair in Lillehammer
Born in Santiago de Chile, Chile, Magdalena Casas-Cordero started skiing when she was three years old. Skiing is a very important element in Magdalena’s life and it is something in which her entire family participates.
Magdalena’s mother, María Pía, was national ski champion and won the Chilean Athlete of the Year award, while her brother, Juan Pablo, is also an active skier.
Although Magdalena’s mother taught her and her brother how to ski at a young age, the Chilean credits her father, Juan Pablo, as her main supporter: “My dad is the best coach in the world. He always travels with me, goes to all of my races and supports me in everything I do. He keeps me motivated, encourages me, and tells me to make the most of the opportunities I have.”
Casas-Cordero started practising Alpine skiing and dominated competitions at a domestic level. She was a national champion for four years in a row, and a metropolitan champion for six years. But when she competed abroad, the results were not what she had expected.
“I was bored of Alpine skiing because in Chile I always finished in the first or second position. When I competed outside Chile, the competition was tougher. There wasn’t much that I could do to improve, because we have only two months of skiing, compared with the Europeans or North Americans, who have five months of snow.”
In 2014, Magdalena switched from Alpine skiing to ski cross, and the whole family supported her decision. “I loved watching the skiers jump and my dad told me that I had the personality to do it.”
It has been a successful move for the 18-year-old, who qualified for the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Lillehammer, which will be held from 12 to 21 February 2016, after she took first place at the South American Cup and at the National Championships, both in Antillanca, Chile, and a 22nd position at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Chiesa, Valmalenco, Italy.
Magdalena is following in the footsteps of her big brother, who competed in ski cross at the first edition of the Winter YOG, in Innsbruck, Austria, in 2012. She admits that she has been inspired by her brother’s experience.
“My brother told me about the spirit that surrounds the YOG, the pride of representing your country, the possibility of meeting athletes from all over the world, how stunning the Olympic Village is, and the support that the athletes receive.”
Ski cross made its Olympic debut in Vancouver 2010 for both men an women, and it is also included in the YOG programme.
“Honestly, if I competed in the YOG in Alpine skiing, the results wouldn’t have been good for me. As ski cross is practically a new event, it’s more likely to have a better performance because all the countries are in the same conditions.
“If I train as much as I can and give the best of myself, I can have a good result in Lillehammer. I’m not thinking of winning an Olympic medal, but I would like to finish within the top 10. That would be a dream come true and a great achievement.”
In Chile, there are no ski cross courses, and Magdalena cannot practise her discipline. What she can practise are the jumps and the ski technique, which can be done at any ski course.
Last December, Casas-Cordero spent two weeks training in California, where she started practising the jumps and the race technique. In mid-January, she is planning to travel to an academy in France, where she has all the proper elements to compete, in order to be on top form for Lillehammer.
Magdalena Casas-Cordero grew up on skis. She has given up everything, driven by the love of the sport and the goal of reaching the pinnacle of success, the Olympic Games.
“Competing at an Olympic Games is an athlete’s dream. I’ve been training for 10 years, waking up at 6 a.m. every morning and missing hanging out with my friends. Going to Lillehammer represents all the effort that I’ve been making over these past years.”