We talk to some of the Swiss stars from the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020 to find out what it meant to compete at a home edition of the Games.
Lausanne 2020 is sure to have been an unforgettable experience for all the young athletes who took part, but even more so for the Swiss stars who were able to compete at home in front of their own fans – a privilege that most athletes do not get to enjoy in their sporting careers.
Here, some of Switzerland’s most successful young Olympians share their thoughts on what it was like to carry the hopes of the host nation at the YOG.
A Bussard one-two in the men’s ski mountaineering individual event – with Robin claiming silver behind his gold medal-winning twin brother Thomas – stole all the headlines on day two of the YOG. After going on to win mixed relay gold with his brother, Robin was blown away by the support from the Swiss fans who were there to cheer him on.
“It was pretty crazy and wild. I couldn’t believe I was signing autographs like a famous person. This event was very well supported and it shows how much people enjoy watching skimo, and how much people in Switzerland love the Olympic Games. The reaction was incredible.”
While some young athletes thrive on home support, others can struggle with the added attention at first – as Noah found out in the men’s figure skating competition. However, as soon as the 15-year-old entered the arena, the warmth of the Swiss crowd helped calm his nerves before his big performance.
“It stressed me out a little bit, so I tried to stay as calm as I could. Before I went out, I just put on my noise-cancelling headphones to try and not listen to what was going on. That helped me focus. But once I was out there, it was really nice.”
Not only was Thibe one of the stars of the Opening Ceremony as the Swiss flagbearer, she also enjoyed memorable YOG on the slopes – joining the Bussard twins in winning mixed relay gold in ski mountaineering and taking home silver in the women’s individual competition. For her, the enthusiasm of the locals for the YOG was plain to see when she collected her medals.
“Racing wasn’t difficult for me because there were a lot of Swiss people all around the course. We maybe had three minutes when there weren’t people cheering for us, but everywhere else there were people cheering! Normally, in a ski mountaineering race, there are a small number of people at the start and at the finish, and sometimes elsewhere on the course, but 70 per cent of the time you are alone. But at the YOG, 95 per cent of the time there were crowds of people. I didn’t expect so many people [to turn up at the medal ceremony] either, with all the Swiss flags.”
Robin’s YOG moment came in the team ski-snowboard cross event, where he and his three Swiss team-mates clinched gold in front of the jubilant Swiss fans at Villars. He was also keen to stress the role the Swiss NOC played in making the YOG such a successful edition for the hosts.
“It was crazy. They gave us so much energy. I think it was a bit unusual because I was at home, but the crowd was amazing. The Swiss NOC did a lot of things for the young athletes. They organised a lot of things. It was a good start and good YOG overall for Switzerland, but I don’t think people expected us to win so many medals. It was unbelievable.”