Road to Lausanne 2020: Wahleithner set to become the Philippines’ first female Winter Youth Olympian speaks to Alpine skier Ana Noelle Reynado Wahleithner as she prepares to compete at the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020.

Picture by Ana Wahleithner

Last month, the Philippine Ski Federation announced that Ana Noelle Reynado Wahleithner would compete at the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020, becoming the country’s first female Winter Youth Olympian and just the third athlete to represent the Philippines at the Winter YOG, following in the footsteps of Innsbruck 2012 alumni Abel Tesfamariam and Michael Christian Martinez.

With figure skater Martinez going on to compete at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018, Wahleithner is hoping that she too will be able to use the YOG as a springboard to the Olympic stage, with the 16-year-old eyeing a place at Beijing 2022.

Here, speaks with the US-based Alpine skier as she prepares to compete in Lausanne…

How excited are you about competing in Lausanne?

“I’m really excited about going to Lausanne and I can’t wait to represent the Philippines. I’ve watched the YOG on TV before and so being able to qualify and compete there is a huge thing for me, and I’m very excited to go. I was just in Switzerland for training and I thought it was a beautiful country. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to race there in January.”

You live and train in the USA. How significant is your Filipino heritage to you?

“I’m very proud of my Filipino heritage, which comes from my mum’s side, and it means so much to me to represent the country in Alpine ski racing; it’s a big honour. I was born in California and have lived here my whole life, but I feel very close to the Filipino side of my family. I grew up living with my maternal grandmother and she was a huge influence on me. I’ve been to the country twice and I absolutely love it there.”

What do you hope to gain from competing in the YOG?

“I’m hoping to gain the experience of competing in an international event so that I can go on to represent the Philippines in more major competitions, such as the Asian Winter Games and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.”

What are you most looking forward to about the YOG?

“I’m looking forward to being able to see all the activities and other competitions, and I’m really looking forward to meeting all the other athletes too.”

Ana Wahleithner
Picture by Ana Wahleithner

How did you get started in skiing?

“My aunt on my dad’s side owns a cabin in the Lake Tahoe [USA] area, and we went to stay there when I was about seven years old. I learned to ski at the resort nearby and just fell in love with the sport.”

How did your skiing develop from there?

“I saw some people from the ski team training while I was just skiing around and I thought it looked really fun, so I asked my parents if I could join. Once I joined, I realised after a couple of years that this was something I really wanted to do. And here I am today getting ready to go to the Youth Olympic Games!”

How much of your life is dedicated to training for ski racing?

“Training is a huge part of my life. When I was 13, I enrolled in Sugar Bowl Ski Academy, which is a school that lets me train six days a week for skiing in the winter, while still continuing with my studies. In the winter, I train from 9 a.m. to noon every day during the week and then go to school from 1 to 5 p.m. And then on weekends I train from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In the fall, I have two workout sessions that help keep up my strength for the winter. One of these sessions is before school and one is after school. In the spring, I have more of a recovery period so I have only one workout session, and in the summer my school sends out workout programmes for the students to complete over the holidays.”

How do you manage to balance training with schoolwork?

“It takes a certain mindset to be able to balance academia and skiing. I love the sport so much so I try to prioritise it as much as I can, but I also try to ensure that I balance my studies well so that I can continue to race without having to worry about my homework too much.”

Do you have any other interests away from skiing?

“I enjoy baking and cooking, and I also enjoy teaching my dog to do tricks!”