Clara Direz (FRA) described her day as “enormous” after skiing to the Gold medal in Ladies’ Giant Slalom at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games. The Gold medallist clocked a total time of 1 minute, 56.13 seconds. Estelle Alphand (FRA) claimed Silver with a time of 1:56.34, and Switzerland’s Jasmina Suter took the Bronze in 1:56.45.
Direz said her surprise victory, combined with the thrill of competing at Innsbruck 2012, has created one of the great moments in her life. “Today I have lived an enormous experience and I’m always going to think of it as the best event I’ve ever done,” Direz said. It was not easy, and Direz was worried about keeping her composure as she awaited her second run.
“At the start of the second run I was stressed,” she said. “I had the feeling that I didn’t ski very well. I was surprised when I came through the finish and looked at my time.”
Direz and Alphand placed third and fourth, respectively, after the first run. Both skiers said they had to deal with the intensity of placing in the top five after the first run, putting the podium within reach.
“It was difficult for me because I didn’t think I skied very well in the first run,” Alphand said. “I was a little bit stressed, so in the second run I focused and I was very happy to win the Silver.”
Direz and Alphand both hail from Albertville, France, where they are schoolmates together. Together, they have helped France win each of their Alpine Skiing medals so far by participating in the individual and team events.
It was the third medal for Alphand, who won Ladies’ Super-G on January 14 and was in the Bronze medal-winning French Parallel Relay team. Alphand, however, said that there is much more to the Games than just winning.
“[The Games are] a great experience because you meet new people and open up to new people,” she said. “It’s an experience that you keep in your memory for all of your life.”