Verónica Ravenna aims for the top in Lillehammer

Carolina Cabella was a Young Reporter for the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014, and will be reporting once again on Lillehammer 2016. In the run-up to the Games, she caught up with fellow Argentinean Verónica Ravenna, who will be one of the eight athletes representing Argentina at the Youth Olympic Games Lillehammer 2016.

Picture by Per Alnes (2)

Verónica Ravenna is one of the eight athletes who will represent Argentina at the second edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, which will take place from 12 to 21 February 2016.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Verónica moved to Canada in 2004, when she was 6 years old. Her father’s love for skiing and his job in a wooden floor factory took the Ravenna family to Whistler, British Columbia, a small town located two hours away from Vancouver.

Whistler is home to the Whistler Sliding Centre, which hosted the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge competitions during the Olympic and Paralympic Games Vancouver 2010. It was on that track where Verónica got a taste of luge, at the age of 12. Since then, she has never abandoned the sport.

“Just before the Vancouver Games started, I went to the Whistler Sliding Centre with my elementary school classmates and tried luge for the first time. My dad signed me up for a recruitment camp and I loved it,” Ravenna said.

Argentina invited her to represent them. “I accepted their offer because I received a lot of support from the Argentinian luge federation. My whole family is in Argentina and I have a lot of friends there. I am very happy to represent them because of the support they have given me and the love of the Argentine people, most of whom don’t know me, but make me feel connected with home.”

After five seasons competing in Canada and in the USA, Ravenna went to Europe to compete for the first time, in 2014. Her performances, including a 6th and a 4th place at the Junior World Cups in the German cities of Oberhof and Winterberg, respectively, paved her way to Lillehammer 2016.

In 2015, Verónica confirmed her good results with a 5th place at the Junior World Cup in Sigulda, Latvia. “It was a great learning experience for me because I competed in places that I’ve never been before and I’m very happy.”

During the European season, from October to March, Verónica trains with Czech coach Petr and Ukrainian coach Yuri, both provided by the International Luge Federation (FIL) to help athletes from smaller countries. When she is in Canada, she trains with a local coach.

“Verónica found great camaraderie and good sportsmanship in the FIL Group. Although there are more than seven countries involved in the FIL Group and different languages spoken, the support is amazing. The relationship with the coaches is very good, and they are open to receive new athletes. Since Verónica joined the FIL Group, she has felt more passionate about sport and more enthusiastic about fair-play competition,” Verónica’s father Jorge said.

Having tested herself against the best international lugers, Ravenna admits that Germany, Russia and Austria are the most powerful countries and the favourites to win in Lillehammer: “They are the best because of their long history in the sport and the vast experience of their coaches. I consider that my level is not far away from theirs and would like to finish among the top six.”

Before her Olympic debut, Verónica competed in the Junior World Cup on 15 January 2016 in Altenberg, Germany, where she finished in 8th place.

Verónica Ravenna is taking a leading role in luge in Argentina and her ambition doesn’t stop here. She is planning to compete at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang in 2018: “It is my dream and a goal. It is much more difficult because I have to compete in the senior category. Nevertheless, I am going to attempt it and will participate in the obligatory qualifying six races.”