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11 Mar 2015
IOC News

Peter Schlickenrieder: Silver swansong

Now a well-known writer and TV personality in his native Germany, former cross-country skier Peter Schlickenrieder shares his memories of the Olympic Winter Games in this latest video in our Words of Olympians series.

More than a decade after hanging up his skis, German cross-country skier Peter Schlickenrieder’s passion for the mountains remains undimmed. An illustrious career spanning quarter of a century took in two editions of the Winter Games – Lillehammer 1994 and Salt Lake City 2002, where he won a silver in the very last race of his career.

Since retiring, he has cycled across the Alps, and walked the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and the Caucusus Mountains on the frontier between Europe and Asia. These mountain adventures provide him with a source of inspiration for his work as a successful writer and conference speaker. He also appears on TV regularly as a winter sports commentator and is a vice-president of the German Ski Federation (DSV) and honorary president of his country’s School Sport Commission.

Schlickenrieder had the distinction of being the only German athlete to take part in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic torch relay, completing his leg in December 2009 in Quebec.

Fifteen years earlier, when he was just 23, he made his Olympic debut in Lillehammer, where he placed 35th in the 30km freestyle and 56th in the 50km classical. He would fare better in the 4x10km relay, partnering Torald Rein, Jochen Behle and Johann Mühlegg as Germany took fourth place in a race won by Italy after a close-fought battle with  Björn Daehlie’s Norway that went down to the wire.

“Being there at the Games for the first time in Lillehammer was a special feeling, and that’s the most important for me: to take part in the relays then and get that fourth place,” says Schlickenrieder, casting his mind back to the 1994 Winter Games.

In the late 1990s, Schlickenrieder won two FIS World Cup races and earned two second places before bowing out on a high in Salt Lake City, winning silver behind Norway’s Tor Arhe Hetland in the 1.5km individual sprint.

“It was totally different as I’d already been through so many stories,” he explains. “I’d had a lot of different experiences and a lot of disappointments, and for me the Salt Lake City Games were the right time to say goodbye to my sporting career, on a very, very high note.

“I put all the experience I’d picked up as an athlete over 25 years of competition into it, and I felt so good when it all worked out,” he adds. “Going home with a medal is totally unique. When you round things off by winning one – and it was the only one for me – it’s something very special and it still feels that way today. There’s so much euphoria and it’s a very intense experience too.”

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