"Dreamed of as a child", is the answer of many athletes when it comes to the Olympic Games.
Many debutants don’t want the experience to be spoiled by the circumstances in China. Some said that they could concentrate fully on the sport. The more experienced hold on to the past.
"I will keep all this in my memories forever", said Olympic snowboarding champion Anna Gasser about her 2018 experience in Pyeongchang.
The Carinthian is relieved to have been to Winter Games before the difficult Beijing Games. But she didn’t really enjoy the flair until four years ago, when her competitions were over and she was Olympic champion.
"Before, there was so much pressure on me, I was so tense and didn’t want to do anything. After the victory I enjoyed it, my family was there, I was in the Austria house, watched other competitions", Gasser has many things she will remember forever.
Vancouver unbelievable memory for Prommegger
Already twice in the enjoyment of the festivities on site came as a two-time gold medalist Matthias Mayer. The first competition was "unbelievable for me, such a huge thing", so he has long since known what is in store for him. But because of all the Corona measures maybe not again.
He is sure that "China will be the most special so far". He regrets being completely shielded from the outside world. "I will concentrate on the races."
This is how Andreas Prommegger is taking it at his fifth Games. "You have to look at it professionally, deliver your race. My experience comes in handy", explained the snowboarder. "When I think back to Vancouver (2010, note.) think back, that was a madness. That was exactly what Olympia should be for me. There was such a great atmosphere, the Olympic Village was in the middle of Vancouver in a dream city. Nothing could be compared to that and Beijing will be completely different now."
"Positive indifference" Bob pilot Beierl
Luger Wolfgang Kindl has also been there three times – thank God, he says. "It is a great pity for those who are participating for the first time. Because maybe you are only once and then you have such games with restrictions and without spectators. But I think Olympic Games are still very special. For us it is the greatest. I am glad that I made it."
Doubles colleague Thomas Steu sees it soberly. "We know why we are going there. We are there for eleven days, that is bearable and you can cope with it."
Bobsledder Kathrin Beierl is just happy to have been in Pyeongchang already. "I was able to enjoy all the fuss, the dressing, the marching in at the opening ceremony, the Austria House. That all falls out. I am sad for my girls who are with me for the first time. For me I see it quite relaxed, I will concentrate on the sport."
She also finds positive things: "I feel a certain indifference despite the knowledge of the greatness of the event. It is a positive indifference. There are no things that distract me there."
Prock does not want to let the anticipation be taken away from her
Snowboarder Sabine Schoffmann made it to Games in third attempt, but doesn’t expect big fireworks of emotions at her premiere either. "It won’t be the Olympic mega-experience, I’m prepared for that. It will not be the coolest race of my life in terms of experience."
Cross-country skier Teresa Stadlober has a similar view: "China is not a winter sports nation. We probably won’t come back after the Games if there are no competitions there."
Luger Hannah Prock does not want to let her anticipation be spoiled. "I was very excited when I got dressed, they are big games".
Some people find it easier to cope with the hustle and bustle than others, said skeleton skier Janine Flock. "I don’t know how strong everyone is mentally. I would say that a certain routine and experience already helps. The games will be different, you have to stay flexible in general."
For mogul skier Katharina Ramsauer, Olympics "came relatively close and at short notice". She has absolutely no idea what to expect during the competitions.
Missing family hurts
Samuel Maier is also a debutant. The 22-year-old skeleton pilot already had the Olympics on his mind as a child; for him, Beijing shines despite accompanying circumstances. "I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a kid. Stupidly said, I don’t care. It has been my dream for so long, I won’t let it be taken away from me. I figured half a year ago that it would be games like this and not much would change."
That the family will not be there hurts not only him. "But for me as an athlete only the four runs and a bit more than four minutes count."
Alexander Payer considers himself well prepared for the China Games, so to speak, by the 2018 drubbing in the snowboarding resort of Bokwang. "We were accommodated outside the Olympic Village. I was a bit horrified by the surroundings. I thought you were flying to the Olympics for a huge event you’ve been waiting for all your life and everyone is hyped."
But the 32-year-old Carinthian also sees an advantage in what he has experienced: "No matter what comes this year, nothing surprises me anymore."