Marco Schwarz: ‘My career really started after the Youth Olympic Games’

Austrian ski champion Marco Schwarz talks to Olympics.com about winning the World Cup slalom Crystal Globe and reflects on how his experiences at the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Innsbruck 2012 helped set him on the path to the top.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Marco Schwarz credits the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) with being a key part on his road to success.

The Austrian Alpine Skier shared with Olympics.com in an interview how his experience at Innsbruck 2012 - where he won gold medals in the boys' combined, boys giant slalom, and parallel mixed team event - was an important step towards senior success.

Now 26 years old, he also has an Olympic team silver medal from PyeongChang 2018, and will be aiming to add to that haul at the Beijing 2022 Games in February.

Schwarz won the combined World Championship title in 2021, after finishing the season first in the 2020/21 men's slalom standings to claim the small Crystal Globe for the discipline.

Olympics.com: How do you reflect on your success last season?

Marco Schwarz: “The season was pretty cool for me. We worked hard last summer and started early with the ski camps. Then to start the slalom season with third place in Alta Badia was pretty cool for me. Since then, I had no more pressure, and the hard work paid off, especially in the slalom. January was pretty amazing – there were seven races, and I was on the podium six times. Also, the World Championships with the gold medal in super combined and the third place in GS [giant slalom] was pretty cool.”

What was the main highlight for you?

“Of course, the biggest thing was the win of the slalom globe. It means a lot to me and also to the whole team. I'm really thankful for that and it was amazing to race. One of the highlights – of course, there were many highlights – was to win my first slalom in Adelboden [Switzerland], and the slalom win in Schladming [Austria]. But the biggest thing was the Crystal Globe. I'm pretty happy about that.”

Are you pleased with the progress you have made over the last few years?

“The progress I have made over the last two years has been amazing. Since my injury, I started to work pretty hard. Of course, I also worked hard before, but since then, I worked harder, and it has paid off.”

With Beijing 2022 approaching, how are you feeling about the Olympic Winter Games?

“I’m really looking forward to it. The Olympic Winter Games are always very special. I had a few races at PyeongChang 2018. It was my first Games, and it was really cool to win the silver medal in the mixed team event, and the other races were pretty cool as well. In Alpine combined I finished fourth, so I was a little bit disappointed. But now I know how to work and how to focus on the main things, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Looking back at PyeongChang 2018, what were the best moments for you?

“The best moment, of course, was the mixed team event. We won the silver medal, and to win medal at the Games is very special; not everyone has this chance. It was really cool to race with the team, also with the girls. It was fun.”

Before PyeongChang 2018, you also competed at the Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012 – how do you reflect on your experiences there?

“Yes, my first Olympic experience was in Innsbruck 2012. It was a long time ago, but it was really cool to compete in such a big event when I was younger. It helped me a lot in my future career to focus on the important things and keep the expectations not too high because I think the biggest problem for many competitors is that their expectations are too high.”

Marco Schwarz of Austria competes during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Men's Giant Slalom 2021
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

What are your favourite memories from Innsbruck 2012?

“My favourite memories from the Youth Olympic Games are, of course, when I won the gold medals. And it was in Innsbruck, so many guys from home and my family were there, and it was really cool after the flower ceremony to hug them all. It was very special and very emotional for me.”

What did you learn from your experiences in Innsbruck?

“I learned a lot from the Youth Olympic Games. When you are competing at such a big event, it's hard to focus. There are lots of media there. I think I was 16, so it was the first time with that much media around. So, I learnt to focus on the important things and not to expect too much about winning. Then, I was relaxed and focused on the skiing skills.”

How did your career progress after Innsbruck?

“Since Innsbruck 2012, my career really started. It was the start of my career, I would say. After Innsbruck, I came to the team at the Austrian Ski Federation. Then I started with the European Cup races. And then one year later I started in the World Cup. Since then, I’ve been there and I’m really thankful for that.

What are your future goals?

“My future goals are to get better and better, to learn more and, of course, to keep the slalom level high and also to take the next step in GS and maybe do some super-G races. Always to get better – that's the most important thing.”

What do the Olympic Games mean to you?

“The Olympic Games are very special. They are only every four years, and everyone dreams about competing there. I was there in PyeongChang and hopefully will be there in Beijing, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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