Thomas and Robin Bussard
Swiss twins Thomas and Robin Bussard were among the biggest stars of the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020, as they helped the host nation dominate the ski mountaineering events. The brothers won gold and silver respectively in the men’s individual race, before teaming up with Thibe Deseyn and Caroline Ulrich to top the podium in the mixed relay. It’s perhaps not surprising to see the Bussard twins doing so well in “skimo”, considering their father was once a Swiss national champion in the sport. What’s perhaps more surprising is that their sibling rivalry doesn’t appear to affect their friendship. “It’s an advantage to compete with your brother,” explained double YOG gold medallist Thomas. “We always both want to win, but we are brothers and friends first.”
As the daughter of two former world-class ski racers, Austria’s Amanda Salzgeber was practically born to race down the slopes. The 18-year-old’s parents are Anita Wachter, Olympic champion in the combined in Calgary in 1988 and winner of the overall World Cup in 1993, and Rainer Salzgeber, who won a slalom silver at the 1993 World Championships. With such ski racing pedigree in her genes, there was plenty of pressure on Amanda to emulate her parents’ medal-winning achievements when she competed at the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020 – and she duly delivered, winning gold in the combined to follow in her mother’s ski tracks, while also adding bronze medals in the giant slalom and parallel mixed team events.
“My parents always tell me not to put pressure on myself just because they were really good at skiing,” explains Amanda. “But there is always a bit of pressure coming from somewhere. I have to deal with that and learn from it.”
American cross-country skier Will Koch has a tough act to follow, as the son of four-time Olympian Bill Koch, who is widely credited with inventing the skate-skiing technique that revolutionised the sport in the 1980s. Koch Senior also won silver at the Olympic Winter Games Innsbruck 1976 – a medal that remained the USA’s only Olympic cross-country skiing honour for more than four decades – and won the overall World Cup title in 1982. Luckily, his son Will doesn’t feel that living up to his father’s exploits puts any expectations on him.
“A lot of people think, gosh, that’s a lot of pressure, a lot to live up to,” says Will. “I don’t really see it that way myself. I just think it’s really cool to have him as a person in my life. It’s more of an opportunity than a burden.”
It certainly wasn’t a burden at the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020, where Will was able to win bronze in the 10km classical event – on the same track that his father enjoyed a World Cup victory in 1982.
The Hirano family must have an affinity with silver. Japanese halfpipe snowboarder Hirano Ayumu has twice won medals of that colour at the Olympic Winter Games – first in Sochi and then in PyeongChang. And his younger brother Kaishu continued the family tradition at the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020, as he finished second in the halfpipe. Despite missing out on gold, Kaishu knew that Ayumu would be impressed with his achievement. “My brother will be proud,” he said. “I respect him so much and he inspires. I want to be like him.” Paste your news