Alpine ski great Maze: YOG helps athletes to “have fun and grow”

Double Olympic gold medallist Tina Maze knows how fundamental the Winter Youth Olympic Games are for the development of young competitors. 

Picture by 2014 Getty Images

“It is important for the athletes to know different cultures and meet different people and have fun and grow,” the Alpine skiing legend said during a visit to the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Village on Saturday.

“Sports should be fun. It is a great moment for the athletes to live and share and be together with friends.”

Three years after retiring from competition, Maze’s focus is now on raising her two-year-old daughter, Anouk.

“Life has been really different because now I have a family,” said Maze, who watched the USA take on Finland in the men’s ice hockey at Lausanne 2020 on Saturday. “My daughter needs a lot of attention from me and in sports you need to focus on yourself. The sport is great but it is not my priority now. My priority is family. This is a different style of life. I am focused on [Anouk’s] well-being more than mine.”

Tina Maze
Picture by IOC

Maze won the overall World Cup title in 2013 and claimed gold medals in the downhill and giant slalom at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

She retired in 2017 as Slovenia’s most successful skier with a career total of four Olympic medals (having won silvers in the super-G and giant slalom at Vancouver 2010), four world championship titles and 26 World Cup race victories.

“Racing is not always easy. You need to be really focused every day and you will get tired. I gave everything. I was really exhausted and I knew that was the moment I had to stop.”

She told the athletes that despite her success, she knew she had to keep some doors open in case life changed. In 2015, she took a year-long break from competition to train as a teacher.

“I always had a plan B in case I got injured and could not do racing anymore,” she said. “It was hard to balance school and sports but I am proud because having a degree is very important.”

Maze said that she may consider coaching in the future, but for now she plans only to teach her daughter how to ski.

“She needs to learn,” Maze said. “I would not say to her she should do skiing but if she likes it, I will definitely encourage her. It is a way of living and learning.”