YANQING, China (Reuters) -Chile’s Henrik von Appen has one dream: to beat the Europeans and bring home the first Winter Olympics medal to Latin America.
The 27-year-old, who represented Chile across almost all Alpine skiing disciplines in the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics, is hoping for a top 20 finish in the men’s downhill race on Sunday, the first Alpine race of the Beijing Games.
“I’m confident, this course really suits me. Very technical, not much gliding which is my biggest weakness,” he said of the course nicknamed “The Rock” which is being inaugurated at this year’s Olympics.
Sacrificing time with his family and girlfriend in Chile, he spends around half the year on the skiing circuit which is heavily focused in central Europe, making it harder for skiers from other continents to get a foothold in the sport.
“Coming from Chile, Argentina or even Norway, it’s hard for relations and the family. Of course, if you want to beat all these guys you need to train the same or more to be able to compete. I don’t really want to give any advantage to nobody, so I’m always training,” he said.
“My dream is just to beat all these guys every time. If I do it, I think a lot of Chileans will be inspired. I hope in the future we can do a World Cup in Chile.”
At the 2018 Winter Games, Von Appen came 30th in the super-G and 34th in the downhill. In four World Championship appearances, he got into the top 30 three times, with his best results in downhill.
Still recovering from a bad injury sustained in 2019, he is hungry for bigger things.
“I love racing for Chile. I have Chile in my heart. I just want to do better than my last Olympics and keep moving on,” he added. “Hopefully one day I go for the medals and (can) be the first Latin American medal in history in winter sports.”
(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Christian Radnedge)