Sunday, January 29

The portrait of the 14 Spaniards who go to the Games

  • Nine specialists in snow disciplines and another five in ice tests attend.

  • Queralt Castellet and Lucas Eguibar are the two main options to fight for the medals.

they are just 14 Spanish athletes starting this weekend they will attend the Winter Olympics, which this time are held in Beijing. 14 different dreams, although in the case of snowboarding there are really serious possibilities that both Queralt Castellet What Lucas Eguibar They can occupy any of the three places on the Olympic podium. As in the summer Olympics, the Winter Games last two weeks in which they capture the world’s media attention.

Of the 14 selected athletes, nine belong to snow disciplines and the other five to ice events, as is the particular case of Catalan Ander Mirambell who will be one of the two flag bearers of the Spanish team. will share the honor with Queralt Castellet which faces its fifth consecutive Games.

Adur Etxezarreta

The Navarrese skier has been combining events from the World Cup and the European Cup this season. He is a specialist in speed disciplines. He arrives in Beijing in good shape, “after having met the objectives of the season” and especially after having become the first Spanish skier to reach the podium in a downhill European Championship in January. He did it in Tarvisio, in Italy. At the age of 25, each season he demonstrates his progress with the tremendous difficulty of facing untouchable skiers from countries like Austria and Switzerland. In Beijing 2022 Etxezarreta will participate in both the downhill race and the super giant.

Imanol Red

Gone is the perverse era of cross-country skiing, with the figure of Johan Muhlegg, dispossessed for doping of the three golds he achieved in Salk Lake City, in what was one of the biggest winter Olympics scandals. Spain goes to cross-country skiing in Beijing with the intention of skiing and having fun and, in the case of the Gipuzkoan, Imanol Rojo, 31 years old, with the intention of repeating some of the ‘top’ 30 that he has achieved this season in races of the World Cup. It will be his third Games in a row. He has been competing for two decades and always trying to learn from the great Norwegian specialists. Now he trains with the Andorran team. “I have spent the whole season trying to do different things with a higher volume of work with the intention of arriving at these Games in the best possible way.”

James Pueyo

At 20 years old, the Catalan long-distance runner, trained in Cerdanya, is one of the great values ​​of Spanish cross-country skiing. He makes his debut in the Games after showing that he does not wrinkle in high competition. His specialty is the sprint, the fastest and most spectacular modality where the competitors eliminate each other to overcome the qualifying phase, the quarterfinals, the semifinals and enter the fight for the medals. “He got to the Games well, although the start of the season was complicated by a broken fiber that I suffered in September”

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Javier Lliso

Acrobatic skiing or freeskiing is a modality that almost goes unnoticed south of the Pyrenees to the point that it is strange that two specialists in this discipline attend the Beijing Games. One of them is Javier Lliso, from Madrid, 24 years old and a member of the Colmenar Ski Club. Participate in the Big Air. The skier launches himself and tries to perform a stunt on the obstacle that comes his way. “I have set the Games as my goal for the year after participating in the World Cup.”

Lucas Eguibar

He is the great male star of the Spanish Olympic team. He arrives in Beijing 2022 as the Snowboard Cross world champion, a title he won last year in Idre Fjäll, in Sweden. Reference therefore to get a medal and follow the steps of Regino Hernandez who won the bronze medal four years ago.”If you win the World Cup overall (as you did in 2015) it’s because you’ve been strong all season; winning the World Cup is one day every two years and the Games one day every four. I’m going to continue working hard and it will be what it has to be. If it’s not in Beijing, I’ll try other Games, four more years and that’s it,” he told this newspaper last year after his world title. He is 27 years old and is from Gipuzkoa.

Nuria Pau

The Catalan skier, at 27 years old, has not had, far from it, a path of roses, nor some placid descents on powder snow to become the only female Spanish representative of alpine skiing, the discipline in which years ago they excelled Blanca Fernandez Ochoa Y Maria Jose Rein. Nuria Pau he had to fend for himself after he lost his place in the official team of the Spanish federation. He traveled to all the European ski resorts, combining World Cup and continental events, until he led the first private ski team promoted by La Molina this season. “Skiing is being there all year round, traveling to the glaciers of the Alps in summer and before the pandemic to South America, to the resorts of Argentina or Chile. And if not, training in the gym, on a road or mountain bike, running on trails. Summer is the season to strengthen your muscles and improve your physical fitness. And, furthermore, as the alpine slopes are very high in summer, you can’t stay for long because of the altitude. You have to fight. You have to be many days away from home,” he acknowledged last year in an interview with this newspaper.

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Queralt Castellet

Five Games… it is said soon. 32 years old is the ‘rider’ from Sabadell, an institution, the woman who has been growing alongside snowboarding since she debuted at an Olympic event at the age of 16. He aspires to everything in Beijing, although the pressure to Queralt Castellet It comes to him in the halfpipe where he tries to dazzle the jury with incredible tricks in the air and feeling comfortable on the board. “I still lack many dreams, among others to win gold in a World Championship, a medal at the Games or a Golden Globe,” he declared in an interview with this newspaper. We will have to get up early on February 9 and 10 to see it in action.

Quim Salarich

How different would everything be if Quim Salarich could start the first heat of a slalom in the top ten. Surely, then, fighting for an Olympic diploma would not be a mid-winter night’s dream. At the age of 28, the skier from Vic is experiencing his best season on the international circuit with a ‘top 15’ in the World Cup achieved in December, something unthinkable a few years ago in the discipline in which Paquito Fernández Ochoa won the gold medal , the only one with the best metal, achieved by Spanish skiing. “If I managed to get out of the top 10 it would be so different. But when you have to earn the positions among the last 50, everything gets complicated because the track is not in the same conditions due to the marks of the previous descents,” he declared a few days ago in a report that this newspaper dedicated to him.

Thibault magnin

At the age of 21, he managed to return to competition in January after suffering a knee injury. Like Javier Lliso participate in the Big Air. From a Swiss father and a Spanish mother, he has always made the mountains his stage to try to succeed in sport. And more, now, that it will debut in a Games. “I’m going to try to do my best tricks in Beijing and who knows if I’ll win a medal. It’s been a difficult year because last summer I had to have surgery on my knee and I couldn’t ski for a long time.”

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Ander Mirambell

He is 38 years old and will be the standard-bearer for Spain along with Queralt Castellet. He is the first of the five ‘ice’ men who attend the Games on behalf of Spain. And an entire institution in the skeleton, at ground level, without fear of speed, which gives him the title of pilot. With a blue and white heart as a great fan of Espanyol (he has come to compete with the parakeet club’s crest) he has 92 World Cup events and as an Olympian he made his debut at the Vancouber Games in 2010. “I arrive in good shape after two weeks of hard work and trying to make the sled adapt well to the Beijing circuit, which is one of the longest in the world. I want to test the ice, the response of my sled and, if I am able to find the desired handling, I can be very competitive in the Games.

Laura Barquero and Marco Zandron

She is from Madrid and is 20 years old. framework was born in Italy 23 years ago. They have been skating together since December 2020 and will make their Olympic debut in pairs at the Beijing Games. His best position has been a ninth place in the last European championship. “Having obtained a place for the Games and being able to be there is already a prize. A dream come true and what we will do is enjoy this experience”, he affirms Laura Barquero. “A success for us would be to qualify for the final,” adds the skater.

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Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz

olivia was born 24 years ago in Sheffield (England) and Adrian 31 years ago in Barcelona. They compete in the dance modality, where choreography prevails more than in the discipline of couples. Here, moreover, they are hardly allowed to skate separately. Smart makes his Games debut while Diaz was in Sochi 2014 partnering with Sara Hurtadoor. His best positions have been a fourth place in the last European Championship and a podium finish, like third, in the Canadian Grand Prix in 2021.”olivia and I have given ourselves some challenges and we would like to get a seventh or eighth place in the final classification and improve our international scores”, he explains Adrian.

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