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05 Mar 2015
IOC News

Pernilla Wiberg: “I wish everyone on Earth could experience it”

A three-time Olympic medallist, Pernilla Wiberg is considered one of the greatest Alpine skiers in history. In the latest video interview for our Words of Olympians series, she talks about her experiences at the Games, including her first gold medal triumph in 1992.

Like Petra Kronberger (GER), Janica Kostelic (CRO), Lindsey Vonn (USA), Tina Maze (SLO) and compatriot Anja Pärson (SWE), Pernilla Wiberg is part of an elite club of female skiers who have achieved FIS World Cup victories in all five Alpine ski disciplines. Between 1991 and 2002, the all-conquering Swede secured two wins in the downhill event, three in super-G, two in giant slalom, 14 in slalom, and three in combined.

Her exceptional CV also features four FIS World Championship titles (giant slalom in 1991, slalom and combined in 1996, and combined in 1999), an overall World Cup crown (in 1997), four small crystal globes and 61 podium berths (including 24 wins). Outshining all of those accomplishments, though, are the two gold medals and one silver that she earned in her four appearances at the Olympic Winter Games.

Born in Norrköping on 15 October 1970, Wiberg had barely set forth on her remarkable career path when she took Olympic gold in the giant slalom on 19 February 1992 in Albertville (FRA). Already world champion in the discipline, she registered the second-best time in the first run and the fastest time in the second run, overcoming the challenge of Austria’s Anita Wachter and Diane Roffe (USA), who were both awarded a silver medal, having finished 97/100th behind the winner.

“At the starting gate, I felt like I’d done all I could, and that I could just go for it, enjoy myself, and ski to the best of my ability,” recalled Wiberg. “I was a little tense, but not overly so. I was even joking with my physio – I felt very relaxed, which helped me to do my best, ski as well as I could and eventually win the gold. It was a fantastic feeling and a great atmosphere.”

The versatile Scandinavian later claimed her second Olympic title in the combined event at Lillehammer 1994, and picked up a silver medal in the downhill at Nagano 1998.

“The Olympic Games are the crowning moment in the career of any athlete,” she explained. “When you get there and you win a gold medal, it’s a magical moment. It’s actually very difficult to describe the feeling, and I wish everyone on Earth could experience it, but that’s obviously impossible.

“When you’ve trained for that moment for so long, since you were six or seven, and you’ve dreamt of winning an Olympic gold medal, you just feel incredibly satisfied and proud. You’re there representing your country, you’re singing the national anthem, and you know that lots of people are watching you and are going through the same emotions as you. It’s an amazing sensation.”

Immediately after retiring from professional skiing in 2002, Wiberg was elected to the IOC Athletes’ Commission by her peers in Salt Lake City. During her eight years of service, she sat on eight special committees, including Sport and Environment, Ethics, and Evaluation and Coordination for the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. She also chaired the bid evaluation committee for the Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012.

Since then, she has remained involved in the FIS Working Group for Alpine Technical Equipment, which looks at how to improve safety within skiing, while managing the Pernilla Wiberg Hotel, locat-ed in the Idre Fjäll ski resort in central Sweden.

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