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Swiss skier’s post-race hug lasted longer than the two giant slalom runs.
Aline Danioth picked up her third medal of the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games on Tuesday when she won ladies’ giant slalom bronze with an aggregate 2 minutes, 33.95 seconds, behind winner and compatriot Melanie Meillard (2:33.28) and Germany’s Katrin Hirtl-Stanggassinger (2:33.34).
But the 17-year-old Danioth was in tears straight after the race and needed to be consoled by her mother Janet at the bottom of the piste.
If ever a moment showed the importance of these Games to the teenagers involved and the passion they are bringing to win, this was it.
Aline Danioth was bitterly disappointed to have missed out on winning her favourite event, despite having already picked up a gold medal in the combined event and a bronze from the super-G.
Just a few metres away from former International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, whose vision led to the Youth Olympic Games, Danioth’s disappointment at failing to win her favourite discipline was clear to see. So was the perfectionism which Swiss coaches think will help drive her to future success and a place at the Olympic Games.
“She wanted to get the gold in this event and she did not have a good run,” Janet Danioth said. “I kept saying that it is great to win a medal but she got upset, saying ‘Mum, I did not ski well so I am not happy’.
“It is hard for us to understand this. But everybody says that this is why she is so good. She keeps on working.”
Danioth was soon smiling on the podium with Meillard, who added the gold to the silver she won in the combined behind Danioth. Switzerland, a traditional power in alpine skiing, have proved at Lillehammer 2016 that they have plenty of young talent coming through the ranks.
Switzerland's Melanie Meillard on the way to winning gold in ladies' giant slalom at Hafjell Olympic Slope. Photo: YIS / IOC Arnt Folvik
“These two girls are very strong. It is a good sign,” Swiss head coach Beat Tschuor said. “Aline has pretty high goals. That is the point. She will realise what she did in the next few hours. They are both really on the way to good things. We have good talent.”
After the ceremony, Danioth was happy to pose for pictures with her three medals and was able to put her performances into perspective in terms of her future career.
“Giant slalom is my favourite discipline and I usually go well in it,“ the skier said. “But I made a big mistake in the first run. These Games, though, have definitely been a step forward for me. Getting the medals has been great.”
Written by YIS / IOC Adrian Warner
Adrian Warner is a reporter for the Lillehammer Youth Information Service ‘YIS’. He has covered 13 Olympic Games in a career that has taken in Reuters, the London Evening Standard and the BBC.