Swiss snowboarder recognizes Beijing’s ‘great job’ in organizing Games, ready for ‘new direction of life’
Published: Feb 10, 2022 11:09 PM
Swiss snowboarder Nevin Galmarini.Photo:Courtesy of Nevin Galmarini
Swiss snowboarder Nevin Galmarini. Photo: Courtesy of Nevin Galmarini

"China is doing a great job of organizing the Olympic Games," said Swiss snowboarder Nevin Galmarini, who is about to wrap up his nine-day trip in Beijing. He shared with the Global Times on Thursday his "special memory" of a well-organized, hospitable and professional 2022 Olympics, as well as stories behind his sports life. 

Galmarini was a gold medalist at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics in the men's Parallel Giant Slalom (PGS) competition and claimed silver at Sochi 2014 in the same event. In his Tuesday's race at Beijing 2022, he failed to qualify for the finals. 

Galmarini told the Global Times that he has been in a "completely different situation" from where he had been in 2018, mainly due to a hernia-induced back injury he suffered two years ago, resulting in a year's rehab, after which it took a lot of effort to get back to the level of the world's best athletes.

"Considering my journey in the last two years after the injury, I'm already very happy to have made it to the Olympic Games," he said. 

Beijing 2022 is the fourth Olympics for the 35-year-old Swiss veteran athlete. He described his trip since February 2 as "a special memory forever." "The organization of the Games, how we are accommodated, how the transfers are… everything is really good," he said. 

Like all other international Olympic participants, Galmarini directly entered the "closed loop" that Beijing ­implemented to separate Olympics-related personnel from the public outside the loop amid the ­COVID-19 pandemic. 

Despite a wish to know more about the city outside the Olympic Village and local people, he said he understands the quarantine rules and security measures that helped protect athletes from COVID-19, and he said he knows it is a "huge task" to organize an Olympic Games during the pandemic. 

"It [Beijing 2022] is one of the biggest sports events in the world during a difficult time," he said. "It's a different experience, but I think the athletes are very grateful for still being able to compete at Olympic Games during the pandemic."

In the Olympic Village, all game participants undergo daily health monitoring and testing. Galmarini said that the testing is "very efficient" as the athletes can choose the time when they get tested during the day and it only "takes a minute" to finish it. 

He noted that all the ­Chinese staff he met are in full protective suits, but they are "still so friendly." 

Galmarini also shared his feelings about his training and racing experiences in ­Zhangjiakou, North China's Hebei Province, one of the main sites of the Beijing ­Winter Olympics.

Swiss snowboarder Nevin Galmarini.Photo:Courtesy of Nevin Galmarini
Swiss snowboarder Nevin Galmarini. Photo:Courtesy of Nevin Galmarini

"I really have to say the competition site of the Olympic Games, like snowboarding, racing was absolutely perfect. It was fantastic," he said.

For the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, nine different types of snow have been designed according to the demands of different competition events. 

The Swiss athlete said he thinks artificial snow is a lot better for competition and he cares more about whether artificial snow is made in a sustainable way. 

"As far as I know, China uses a lot of green electricity to power the Olympic Games, to power the Olympic Village and to make the artificial snow," he said. 

Growing up in eastern Switzerland, Galmarini started snowboarding at age 8 and spent six years in Hochalpines Institut Ftan, a high school with a specialty for alpine athletes which is a member of the family schools of Education in Motion (EiM) that includes Dulwich College International, Dehong and Green School. He made his debut in the Parallel Giant Slalom at 2002 FIS event. 

The former Olympic champion said this might be the last Games for him. "I don't see myself doing it another four years. But still this is the job that I have. This is the dream job for I worked very hard in my teenage years to become a professional athlete," he said. 

With a master's in business administration, Galmarini noted he is also very excited to get into a new direction in his life. "Since I prepared pretty well for my career after the sports career, I don't feel like I'm scared of what's coming," he noted.