Fifteen youngsters aged 12 to 15 left Mongolia and their yurts for two weeks’ training on the slopes of the Vallée de Joux, a competition venue for the upcoming Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020. They will do the same in 2019, in the hope of being picked for the eight-strong Mongolian cross country skiing team for the YOG in 2020.
This project was the brainchild of Pascal Gertsch, a GP passionate about cross country skiing and Mongolia. Pascal dreamt of organising training camps in Europe – in Sweden, he initially thought. The staging of the next Winter Youth Olympic Games opened the way to come to Switzerland, to the Vallée de Joux, to prepare a team with a view to competing at the YOG: “It was important for the young Mongolians to be able to see in advance how we train here and race against other athletes to be ready for 2020,” he explained.
IOCBesides the purely sporting side, the aim of this first trip is also to meet young locals their own age on the slopes by taking part in sports, drawing or English lessons. Hosted at the Sports Centre, alongside Gertsch, who travelled with them, and joined by Nassa and Christelle, their Mongolian interpreters, they are learning about the region by eating with local families or in restaurants in the area and by forging special relations with their sponsors, who provided them with brand new cross country skiing equipment.