Written by Alex Hickey
There are few honors as great as this in a sportsperson’s eyes, this could be seen as the pinnacle of what hard work and determination can get you, if you want it hard enough. I would go a little further with this idea, at least at these Winter Olympic Games. Today, I’ve come out to this widely unknown part of the world to meet a legend in her own right and someone who is important to all of us in Malta, I’ve come out to meet young Ms. Elise Pellegrin, the only representative for our country in these games; and this is why it is particularly special to be here and meet her.
Naturally, being given the honor of representing your country internationally is always a massive thing, and no doubt we’d be proud of her as a nation whether alone or in a crowd, but she embodies the real Maltese spirit, walking with pride by herself, waving our flag high above her head.
Elise Pellegrin was actually born in France, which is where her passion for her sport, Alpine Skiing, started too. So why does she represent Malta one may ask, where is the connection? Well, her great grandfather was Maltese and am sure he inspired her throughout her life and after practicing the sport for so long and her connection with Malta, she finally got citizenship with the help of the Maltese Olympic Committee. With this information in mind, I wanted to find out more, below are the results of our talk.
Elise’s first races were unfortunately postponed because of severe weather conditions, and then again a second time, which of course was stressful to say the least, and in the end, her first event, the giant slalom, didn’t go as well as she had planned with as she made a technical error and was not being able to finish her second run as a result. Her second event, the slalom was much better with her finishing in 50th place, this was a great effort and an achievement to us watching and I am sure she is proud of her performance. We’re just proud that we have such determined and hardworking representative to make us all feel alive as she flies down the slopes.
It was a bit underwhelming for her that things turned out this way, but she remains positive and upbeat, a strategy which she claims is part of her process and training regime, without it, she says she wouldn’t be able to concentrate on her performance, which I was assured, she has worked hard and constantly for, even requiring her to miss a holiday she had planned for last September in Malta. But we’re sure we’ll be seeing her around the islands sometime soon.
In the end, this wasn’t the event that made history; she also competed in the Sochi Olympics, our first as a nation but definitely not our last. She commented on other events worldwide that she had competed in, including her most recent feat, the World Cup of Alpine Skiing in Switzerland. She has always loved sports, especially skiing, naturally, but she is an avid sportsperson and also loves sports like swimming and cycling too, she’s even started teaching as a fitness instructor in recent years coming full circle with her long term goal of helping people develop both their love and ambitions in sports. With regards to Malta and the obvious situation surrounding winter sports, Elise hopes to offer opportunities for students to engage in an exchange program to come and study under her in the disciplines of winter sports. She has recently gained her skiing instructors license and would like to be an advocate for the creation of opportunities for young, Maltese people interested in taking up winter sports, of course, this would take a lot of time and effort but we would love to see her succeed at helping others find their passion through these sports.
So where to now for Elise? Well, she has her eyes firmly set on the future for sure and can’t wait till she can compete in the next World cup, which will be held in Germany this time and I can’t help but say, I can’t wait and am sure that she will do just great!
What of the other sports people who competed against her, she had some comments on this topic too. She was happy to see Frida Hansdotter who won gold in the sport and commented on how regularly she competes internationally and glad that she got her great moment. She felt bad for Mikaela Shriffin, another competitor and the favorite in the sport, who missed her goal of taking four gold medals home this year, but that, is the nature of competition after all and Elise is happy for her accomplishments regardless. She was very happy for the Belgian team that finished in the top forties, she feels that for such a small nation they did really well and she felt overjoyed for her friend Tess Arbez who came in at 48th place.
All in all it was a great experience for all, including of course myself. Though the results weren’t her best, she knows she can do better and she strives to reach higher and higher aims in upcoming events especially in the German World Cup. Throughout all this she stays positive and always looking forwards and full of spirit as she pushes on to the future. She closed with some words for everyone out there, she says “Believe in your dreams, and give your best to reach success”and that she would like to thank the Maltese Olympic Committee for all the support and help they have given her as well as Olympic Solidarity for sponsoring her training as well as technical support over the past 4 to 8 years leading up to Pyeong Chang, a fitting end to a wonderful Olympic games.