Fri. Apr 10th, 2020

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From Olympic Athlete To Youth Olympic Volunteer

3 min read

Flags in the town centre. The Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lausanne, Switzerland, Monday 06 January 2020. Photo: OIS/Joel Marklund. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC

Les Diablerets local and two-time Olympian Catherine Borghi had her pick of roles when the Youth Olympic Games came to her hometown. But the Swiss star has embodied the spirit of the YOG by choosing to join those generously donating their time and energy.

After almost half a lifetime spent in and around the Olympic movement, Alpine skier Borghi is more aware than most that volunteers are the lifeblood of any Games.

“First I was part of the Olympics as an athlete,” said Borghi, who had a best finish of eighth in the combined at Salt Lake City 2002. “And then I was in Vancouver [in 2010] with the media, with Swiss TV, and now I am completing the circle as a volunteer.

“At first they asked me to take something more important but the most important thing for me was to share this with the children from my ski club and my own children. We are going to bring them on to the slope, not during the race but after the inspection so they can slide down and help.

“For me it was really important that the children from the town could participate. We have around 10-15 volunteering, the rest will come with their school. All the schools from the valley are coming.”

The 43-year-old, who had four top-five finishes in World Cup races during her career, has slid so seamlessly into her role at Lausanne 2020 that many of her fellow volunteers have no idea they are sharing duties with a true skiing star.

“I was with one in my team yesterday and he called me Sandrine the whole day and I was like ‘OK I am Sandrine’,” Borghi said with a laugh before revealing that the onset of Olympic spirit has even finally alerted her own children to just who their mother is.

“My own kids knew I was at the Olympics but it wasn’t so clear what that was and now they speak only about this – having a mum who was an Olympic racer,” she said. “It’s really nice because I am coaching in the ski club and I can live this [experience] with all the children from the town who dream of the Olympics in the future. It’s the best part of my job this week to share all this with the kids.”

From sliding the slopes to prepare them for the athletes to moving bollards and directing fans, Borghi is happy to help in any way and says she just “does what she is told”.

It may only be day one of the Games, but the laidback Olympian is certain that Lausanne 2020 has already had a lasting impact on her beloved community of Les Diablerets, which is host to the Alpine skiing events at Lausanne 2020.

“It has brought the town together,” Borghi said. “In the past couple of months we have worked hard and it’s really good for the future because I think we will stay together. 

“Also, we get a better slope, better light, better snow machine, a new cabin. We have a lot to thank the Olympics for.”

Source: OIS ln/kc/rm

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