Amelie Klopfenstein goes from reserve to double Youth Olympic champion
Swiss Alpine skier Amelie Klopfenstein says she does not want to “wake up” as her dream run from reserve team member to multi-medal winner continued with gold in the women’s giant slalom on Sunday (12 January).
In the space of three days at the Les Diablerets Alpine Centre, Klopfenstein has won two golds and a bronze medal at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, with Sunday’s title adding to her win in the Super-G gold and third place in the combined.
“I don’t know how it happened, it’s really incredible,” said the 17-year-old who was only called up to the Swiss squad on 3 January 2020.
“It does feel like a dream, I hope not to wake up.”
Fifth fastest after the first run, Klopfenstein sent the packed afternoon crowd wild as she produced the sort of smooth, mistake-free performance she is fast becoming known for to finish in a combined time of 2:08.68.
Under pressure, first run leader Rosa Pohjolainen of Finland slipped back to finish 0.14 seconds behind the Swiss star to take silver, with Austria’s Amanda Salzgeber, the combined champion, claiming bronze.
It was almost too much for Klopfenstein to comprehend.
“I can’t believe I am here again, I didn’t think I could do it,” she said, before perhaps revealing the secret to her success. “There was no pressure on me here. I have just been skiing to have fun.”
Pohjolainen will be attempting to tap into that carefree attitude when the women reconvene for the slalom on 14 January.
The Finn looked nailed on for gold in the giant slalom after taking a 0.39-second lead into the second run, before the magnitude of what she could achieve took hold.
“I felt like I had brakes on my skis,” she said after producing the sixth-quickest time in the afternoon.
“I didn’t have any expectations on the first run but maybe I was thinking about the lead [on the second run]. I was a bit cautious.”
After a win and three podium places in FIS slalom races this season already, Pohjolainen cannot wait to give it another go on Tuesday, particularly as she has some serious plans for her day off.
“I am just going to sleep,” she said. “And maybe go see some sights.”
Austria’s Salzgeber is also eyeing up a break, mainly in order to stare delightedly at her two Youth Olympic Games medals.
“I am honestly just really excited about winning the bronze, it is all so amazing,” Salzgeber said. “I had a better second run than first today but I am just so happy to be here.”
The USA’s Emma Resnick almost pulled off the move of the day in the style of her family friend, double Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin.
Twelfth after the first run of the day, the 16-year-old tore down the slope in the afternoon in a time of 1:02.79, to finish just 0.33 seconds outside the medals.
Emma Resnick has all the right moves
OIS ln/rm/kc. Thumbnail photo: OIS/Dylan Burns