Marie Karoline Krista ensured Villars Winter Park continued to be a Swiss paradise during the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games by winning the women’s ski cross gold medal for the host nation.
After Switzerland took three gold and two silver medals in ski mountaineering at the venue last week, the local fans had more reason to cheer on Sunday.
“The crowd was very cool, with so many people,” Krista said. “I was really motivated by the fans and competing at home.
“Not all my heats were good but the final was great. It’s a crazy sport and anything can happen.”
Diana Cholenska (CZE) got silver and Vladislava Baliukina (RUS) took bronze.
Erik Wahlberg (SWE) won the men’s gold, after his final was delayed due to an injury in the women’s race. The wait brought home the risky nature of the sport.
“You are really worried, waiting to go, because we are all friends,” Wahlberg said. “You feel bad for them.”
Once underway, Wahlberg came from behind to seize gold. “I was third at the start and was feeling like it was over,” he said. “But then I gained more and more speed.
“I was scrambling, then I gained 10 metres and overtook them. I got the inside lane and took the shortest route. It’s awesome to have a gold for Sweden. I can’t understand it right now.”
Artem Bazhin (RUS) took the silver, and Andrei Gorbachev (RUS) the bronze.
With four racers thundering down the track together, constantly jockeying for position, there is no doubt that the sport’s rough and tumble nature attracted many of its participants.
“I did Alpine for a while, but it got kind of boring,” Wahlberg said. “Right, left, right, left. I tested out ski cross because it looked cool.
“It makes me happy, because it’s like being on a rollercoaster, it brings the adrenaline. For anyone listening, try out ski cross.”
The need for mental strength, especially after seeing other competitors crash out, is at its maximum.
“You hope they’re OK, but then you just push it right out of your head,” said Ben Wynn (AUS), who finished 14th overall. “You’ve got to 100 per cent focus on your own race.”