Amelie Klopfenstein was one of the stories of the 3rd Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG), going from Switzerland’s reserve list to winning two gold medals and a bronze at Lausanne 2020. The 17-year-old Alpine skier sat down with olympic.org to discuss her YOG experience and hopes for the future.
Just a few days before the YOG Opening Ceremony, Amelie Klopfenstein wasn’t even supposed to be competing. She was preparing to go back to school, and hoping to get out to Les Diablerets at the weekends to cheer on her Swiss team-mates.
An unfortunate injury to her close friend Delphine Darbellay changed all that and, on 3 January, Klopfenstein received the call that she was being drafted into the team as the replacement. The rest is history.
Klopfenstein won the very first gold medal of the YOG, in the women’s super-G, before adding a bronze in the combined and another gold in her favourite event, the giant slalom. By this point she had become a household name in Switzerland, garnering huge acclamation at Les Diablerets and at each medal ceremony in Lausanne. Here, she tells olympic.org about her life-changing experience.
First of all, tell us about how you went from the reserve list to competing at Lausanne 2020.
“Yes, it’s a nice story! Because one week before Lausanne 2020, I didn’t have to be there. I got a phone call at home; I was so sad for Delphine [Darbellay] but I knew it was a good opportunity for me. Delphine wished me good luck, and even came to cheer for me.
“I came to Lausanne relaxed to compete, because I didn’t have any pressure. I didn’t have any time to really prepare, and once the YOG started, I didn’t have any time to reflect on each race. So I just continued to ski and have fun!”
Were you surprised to win two gold medals and a bronze?
“Yes, it’s a little bit special! I had no special objective; it was just to race and have fun. It was really a dream just to race at Lausanne 2020, but to win three medals… I don’t have any words to describe it. It was an incredible few days.”
What was it like to race with so many people there to support you?
“It was incredible to compete at Les Diablerets, and of course to win in Switzerland. I think the YOG are a special event because there are many people watching, which creates a nice atmosphere for the young athletes. So many people came to see the Swiss skiers, and the public pushed me in each race. It was really nice to speak with my family and friends after the races too.
“I study in Brig, and for the slalom many of my classmates came to cheer for me and Lena Volke, who also studies at my college and won the silver medal that day. They travelled two hours by train and made signs for us, and it was so nice to see all of them.”
What was your highlight of Lausanne 2020?
“I think the giant slalom was the best. I really like the giant slalom, and the snow and the piste were really good on that day. It felt really nice to race.
“Afterwards, many of my friends and family also came to the Flon in Lausanne for the medal ceremony. When I was on the podium, I could see all of the people. It was a really nice atmosphere, with many emotions, and we laughed a lot.”
What is next for you?
“I went back to school the week after my competitions, and I have some exams coming up now. Of course, there is the sport, but after that there is more, so my studies are also very important to me. I will also do some FIS races before the end of the season, which were already in my programme before the YOG.”
What are your ambitions for the future?
“My dream has always been to compete in the FIS World Cup. One day, I hope I could reach a podium or even win a race. I hope one day I can also compete at the Olympic Winter Games, but it could be hard. Before I do that, I have to do a lot more training and racing.
“I think the YOG was a really nice experience, and for the future it’s a plus to have these medals. But there is also a long way to go to competing in the World Cup, so now I will concentrate on training and FIS races.”