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European Youth Olympic Festival, Spain flies to glory in Mixed Relay

European Youth Olympic Festival
European Youth Olympic Festival (Photo credit: EYOF FVG 2023)

Forni di Sopra (Italy) – Spain flies to glory in Mixed Relay. The ski mountaineering program at the European Youth Olympic Festival continued on Wednesday with Mixed Relay.

After yesterday’s Sprint race, Wednesday was the day for the National Federations to select their teams for the Mixed Relay race. Each Nation could have a maximum of four teams (each of one girl and one boy) competing on the Relay. However, only a maximum of two teams per country could make it to the Mixed Relay final A, with 12 teams competing for medals.

First on the agenda was a qualification. All athletes did one lap against the clock. Then, the teams were sorted into the A and B finals, with 12 teams in each. Team Spain 1 was the fastest on the qualification, followed by Italy 1, France 1, Spain 2 and Norway 3.

On the A Final, the girls kicked off the battle for medals. Yesterday’s gold medallist Laia Sellés Sánchez (Spain), teamed with Miguel Fenoll Fernández, and immediately established a lead and showed that she was the strongest on the field for the second consecutive day. The Swiss, the Italians and the French were close behind Fenoll Fernández on the first exchange, but Sellés Sánchez decided the race on her second lap.
Sellés and Fenoll showed a magnificent display on their second and last leg, never looking back to finally Fenoll crossing the finish line in first place and grabbing gold at the EYOF with a nearly 25-second lead over Switzerland’s duo Lynn Pollinger and Mathieu Pharisa. Melissa Bertolina and Erik Canovi of Italy won the bronze medal for the home country.

“Yesterday, I was disappointed with my disqualification in the quarterfinal. But, thanks to that, I was very motivated and focused today. We are really happy to win the race. I was a bit tired but Laia was the perfect teammate and she helped a lot. It’s always unique to race in a team for your country. I want to thank all our teammates and also all the coaches and the team behind that is supporting us Now, we have to focus on Friday’s last competition,” said Miguel Fenoll Fernández, a member of the Spanish winning team.

“I really liked the format. Miguel was super strong today, and the race was just perfect for us. We are very happy about our victory, but what makes this so special is to share the moment with all the athletes, our teammates but also from all the other countries. The camaraderie that we have here is incredible. I just want to finish the competition with another good result in the Individual race on Friday,” said Laia Sellés Sánchez, winner of the two gold medals, Sprint and Mixed Relay.

“We are delighted with our results here at EYOF. It’s a shame the second team didn’t make it to the podium, but I’m proud of them all. We are looking forward to Individual race,” said Jordí Martín Guillaumes, the Spanish coach, who added:

“This is very important for our sport in Spain. Our government and the Spanish Federation for Mountain and Climbing Sports greatly support us. Results like this guarantee a long and sustainable future of skimo in our country.”

Switzerland did not win a medal in the Sprint, but the Alpine country made up for it in the Mixed Relay:

“We were focused before the final. Mathieu and I were ready to give it all. During the race, it was a battle, not only physically but also mentally, because there were so many emotions. In the end, we managed to win the silver medal. It wouldn‘t have been possible without the Swiss team behind us,” said Lynn Pollinger of Switzerland.

After two days of competition in a row, Thursday will bring a rest day. The last competition ski mountaineering at EYOF, the Individual race, is scheduled for Friday. Girls will start at 9:00, boys one hour later.

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