Olympic medalists offer advice to Southeast Asian skiers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 15 2022 12:00 PM | Updated as of Feb 15 2022 12:30 PM

Silver medallist Zan Kranjec of Slovenia, gold medallist Marco Odermatt of Switzerland and bronze medallist Mathieu Faivre of France pose with their medals during the victory ceremony. Jorge Silva, Reuters
Silver medallist Zan Kranjec of Slovenia, gold medallist Marco Odermatt of Switzerland and bronze medallist Mathieu Faivre of France pose with their medals during the victory ceremony. Jorge Silva, Reuters

Men's giant slalom champion Marco Odermatt and his fellow medalists were generous in their advice to alpine skiers from Southeast Asia and other tropical countries, telling them to dream big and work hard to achieve bigger goals in the Winter Olympics.

"That's a hard question to start, it's probably not so easy if you don't have snow around," Odermatt, 24, said in the press conference at the Media Center in the National Alpine Skiing Centre after the event where he won his first Olympic gold medal on Sunday afternoon.

"In the end, if you have a dream, you just have to work for it," he said. "I guess they have to try everything, and take what they get, and try their best in every situation." 

Two of the three skiers representing their respective Southeast Asian nations registered DNFs (did not finish) in the giant slalom event held at the Ice River.

The Philippines' Asa Miller faltered just 16 seconds into his first run, while Timor Leste's Yohan Goncalves Goutt advanced but failed to complete the second run amid blistering snow and almost low light at the Ice River course.

Thai-Italian Nicola Zanon completed both runs and placed 38th overall. Last week, Malaysia's Aruwin Salehhudin ranked 38th among 82 participants in the women's giant slalom. 

Slovenian Žan Kranjec, 29, who finished 0.19 seconds behind Odermatt for the silver medal, said starting young could be a plus for skiers from countries without snow.

"From an early age, you need to start training and just be better everyday," he said.

France's Mathieu Faivre, the bronze medalist, said the important thing is "to believe that anything can happen, be progressive in training and love what they are doing."

"For sure, you have to believe in yourself and to keep training, enjoying and skiing," said the 30-year-old three-time world champion said, adding he hopes to see more Millers in the 2026 Winter Games in Milan Cortina, Italy.

All three believe that aspiring skiers from tropical countries need to be well supported by their respective countries.

"If I see how much we train and what big support we get, it's probably not that easy," Odermatt said. "But as soon as they have the opportunity with all the teams, the staff, the opportunity to train, as well in summer the whole year in snow, why not? Just take a lot of work."

Kranjek said: "It's different from the strong nations, they have or we have good support from the early ages. So if they have good support, I think it is possible to get better."

"I think nothing is impossible and you have to start at a young age, very passionate and want to keep training and performing," Faivre said. "They have chances? Maybe it's going to be harder but yeah maybe someday it's going to happen and that could be a really good thing for skiing and winter sports."