St. Moritz gives Youth Olympic Games a licence to thrill
Austrian luge racer Florian Tanzer swaggered across the frozen ice of the iconic Lake St. Moritz alongside his teammates with only one heroic figure in mind: Bond. James Bond.
“The scenery is great, it’s like being in one of his films,” said the 15-year-old, who will be competing in the men’s singles competition starting 18 January.
“I am a James Bond fan and I love the scene where he skis down the bobsleigh track in For Your Eyes Only. I want to do that also, it would be the best.”
The athletes staying in the famous Swiss ski resort for the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games have found it impossible to ignore the instantly recognisable landscape here.
“It’s special for everyone to be competing here,” said Swiss speed skater Flavio Gross. “Especially because of the history. It’s beautiful, with the mountains and ice.
“I’ve never seen so many media or spectators before.”
The St. Moritz Speed Skating Oval, while picturesque, has presented athletes with some unique challenges.
For the first time in Olympic Winter Games history, the 500m, 1500m and mass start
races, for men and women, will be hosted on a lake. While visually stunning, the natural track doesn’t carry the consistencies of an indoor course.
“I’m not used to it and I know a lot of other athletes haven’t had much experience on
natural ice,” said Theo Collins, who will become the first British long track skater to compete in an Olympic event since 1992. “I think everyone else is struggling.
“There are some cracks in it today, but if they sort it out for the races there will be some fast times.”
Meanwhile, athletes competing in bobsleigh, skeleton and luge will have to negotiate the world-famous Olympia Bob Run, one of the oldest bobsleigh tracks in the world.
It is also the only course that is naturally cooled by freezing temperatures.
“It’s really special because it was built 100 years ago and there are no bumps in the ice,” said Tanzer. “It’s like you’re sliding down a cloud.”
The energy burned by luge training allows for some culinary self-indulgence between races. Handily, St. Moritz is renowned for a number of calorific delicacies.
“With luge you can eat whatever you want,” said Tanzer. “I’m trying to eat healthily,
but it’s not always possible.
“So, if you’re having a bad day you can get up to St. Moritz and have some chocolate. Then the day is good.”