Meet Fanny Smith – the Swiss Freestyle Ski Cross champion tells all about how she lost & regained her bronze medal at the last Winter Olympics
We couldn’t believe it? What the hell was going on at the final race in Ski Cross at the Winter Olympic Games 2022 in Beijing? There was clearly some drama going on during that last jump, but what were the judges waiting for, when all the other race participants felt Fanny finished in bronze medal position?
Well, in this interview, you’ll hear it straight ‘from the horse’s mouth’ as Fanny sets the record straight! She explains what it was like for her during the race, how hard she focused on avoiding an accident last minute, not just involving her, but potentially for the Canadian athlete Mariella Thompson as well. So much is at stake in a final race, where positions on the podium are decided upon, that when things weren’t so clear cut, it seems that one Olympic judge came to the wrong conclusion…and then the shit hit the fan, so to speak!
Fanny reveals all to Claudia Peifer: how she tried to deal with the anger, the disappointment, the fury at the system for apparently having failed her, as this single judge tips the outcome of this final. This was followed by a worldwide outburst on social media in support of her 3rd place in this race and her second bronze medal in this nail-biting sport. No one can accuse her of not being committed to ski cross: she turned professional as a teenager and has been at the top of her game for so long, it makes us dizzy.
At home, in Villars-sur-Ollon, she’s a superstar and a much loved by the community – with her own fan club, of course. In this super pretty Swiss village, we meet her at the Hotel VIU, after many months of lockdown frustratingly preventing us from traveling to see her. Music is pumping from the village square opposite the train station, where people meet for aprés ski, finishing off a day on the slopes in the last sunshine, with plenty of mulled wine and beers flowing. The DJ just started playing ’Staying Alive’ by the BeeGees, which was, of course, the perfect start to our chat for TA-DAH.TV’s Sports channel. Watch the video now to meet the super charismatic and utterly unique Fanny Smith! fanny-smith.com
FANNY SMITH – HER STORY SO FAR
You know what they say: ’Start them young…’ – of course, growing up in a skier’s paradise like Villars in Switzerland, that’s what you do: Fanny stood on skis for the first time when she was two years old and raced her first ski cross event at twelve! She knew instantly, that this was the sport for her, combining alpine racing with freestyle skiing. She also likes the brainy aspect of it, using her head for strategy and planning to race the perfect race and win. It didn’t take long for her to turn professional, and so at sixteen years old, she knew her career path was mapped out and turned professional.
Where does the drive come from?
Well, being dyslexic, Fanny was often teased and even bullied at school! To survive such a cruel environment takes some guts, but to turn it into making her an Olympic medallist and to stand on the World Championship podium many times over, is something else. On top of that, Fanny made history many years later in Idre Fjall/Sweden in 2022, when she won the World Cup for the 26th time, equalling the FIS Ski Cross World Cup record. Wow, that is indeed impressive and a great achievement for an athlete, who only really thinks about ‘giving her best’. This time, she beat the Canadian Mariella Thompson, who landed on her skis in that controversial final at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which caused so much outrage due to a wrong decision by a judge, who had awarded Fanny a yellow card, practically putting her last! This was later on reversed by the Olympic Committee and Fanny was assured of a second bronze medal once again – but not after having to fight for it.
The fighter in her keeps appearing all the time, she is naturally competitive. On the road to winning more consistently as a youngster, she had another set back: a serious knee injury stopped her dead in her tracks in 2011 and doctors told her that she would never be skiing again! But this is Fanny Smith we’re talking about, and so she set her mind on getting better and to slowly start training again, as the fighter in her reappeared to see her start competing once more in the 2012/13 season. She then won her first three World Cup races straight and stepped on the podium no less than 6 times out of 10 races. This was also the year she won the famous Crystal Globe as the world’s top ranked ski cross racer for the first time, winning the Gold Medal in Voss/Norway, where the World Championships were staged at the time.
Overall, Fanny has 2 Olympic bronze medals, 5 World Championship medals, 29 World Cup victories, 63 World Cup podiums and many more incredible accolades to her name! And there’s more to come, as she says she still isn’t finished with this sport by a long way. In the quest to be the best, 12 years later Fanny has become Switzerland’s most successful ski cross athlete, and can be properly proud of all her achievements so far. We can imagine, that she can think of quite a few words now for all those, who bullied her at school…
Fanny is an integral part of the Swiss Ski équipe and also raced at the Red Bull SuperSkiCross 2022 in Andermatt/Switzerland. There she has had the pleasure to compete against Sandra Naeslund again in a thrilling race at this special Red Bull event. Sandra won Gold in Beijing and had to work hard to defend her title in Andermatt, with Fanny closely in her tracks, coming second – bang!
Meeting Fanny is a hugely inspirational experience, not just from the point of view of achievement and sportsmanship! Her fan club is madly supportive of her, but everything she stands for has been made possible by the massive and passionate support by her family and generous patrons! Claudia Peifer had the pleasure of meeting her parents too: her father is a well-seasoned ski instructor and paragliding pilot, whilst her mum was a school teacher. Absolutely everybody knows them in this picturesque village of Villars, where celebrities and famous faces rub shoulders every winter season – yet with both feet on the ground, they are completely real and quite hilarious with it. And whilst Fanny now travels the world for her sport and sponsorships, Villars is where she is still at home, and where we thoroughly enjoyed talking to her. Bonne chance, Fanny!
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