«Crans-Montana is an affair of the heart for me»

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Michelle Gisin is one of the rare all-round racers who is able to claim podium places in all disciplines. The 27 year old from Obwalden is looking forward to the races in Crans-Montana, where she intends to perform in the super-G or the two downhills on the programme (22-24 January).

A few days before the competitions on the Haut-Plateau, the Olympic combined champion evokes her feelings about racing this winter without spectators, her fond memories of the Mont-Lachaux piste and the chance of success for the Crans-Montana/Valais 2027 bid to organise the World Championships.

What is your main objective this winter in sporting terms ?  
That we can compete, first and foremost. Not being able to ski in spring was the thing I missed the most. We weren’t able to practice our sport due to the lockdown, there weren’t any more competitions to watch on tv. It was a difficult time. And when it started again, I watched all the sport possible.

Many people feel the same as you and would also like to come and cheer you on in the finish areas.
Unfortunately, this is just the way it is at the moment. I hope that the ski shows will bring a little bit of happiness to people’s daily lives, which may be a little boring and dull at the moment. If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to practice a sport in the week, and then watch the ski races at the weekend.

How are you managing this season, which has been disrupted by the health crisis compared to previous winters ?  
It’s very particular. It’s similar to the atmosphere in FIS races. You cross the finish line and without spectators, it’s all very quiet. It’s a pity, because we also experience the emotion in our sport. However it’s also true that the fans being present has little influence on the sport itself, and on our performance. It’s different from football and ice hockey, for example, where fans really can influence the direction of a match.

The atmosphere in the finish area in Crans-Montana is always wonderful...
And I’ll miss the atmosphere. The fans in Crans-Montana cheer us on passionately, which is why we feel like rock stars. I’m looking forward to getting back to normal.

What has been your most memorable moment on the Mont-Lachaux piste?
Definitely my combined podium in 2018 (editor’s note: Michelle Gisin finished 2nd just three hundredths behind Federica Brignone). But in fact it was rather the whole weekend, as the day before I had finished 4th in the super-G. I also remember some excellent slalom training on the final wall. This piste would be perfect to host a World Cup slalom, I’m convinced. And if we could do it under spotlights, it would be incredible".

You have been, and still are, ambassador for  Crans-Montana’s bid for the World Championships. What do you think the chances are of the Worlds being held in Valais in February 2027 ?  
I was lucky enough to support the bid in for 2025, and I felt that the process was very positive. I felt peoples’ enormous motivation and enthusiasm, even though they knew that we were not favourites. The application was first-rate and received much praise, which will be an advantage for the next bid.  I think it will happen for 2027".

What are the chances of a 33 year old Swiss skier winning a medal at the World Championships ()editor’s note : the age Michelle Gisin will be in February 2027)?
(Laughs) I don’t know yet. But I will definitely be there in 2027. I simply don’t know in what role yet.These World Championships are still a long way off, and my career plan doesn’t reach that far into the future. I would love to be able to watch the races and cheer on our skiers. 

If you weren’t active in the White Circus anymore by then, might we see you as a consultant for a national television chanel ?  
I would much prefer to work for the OC, because Crans-Montana has become a subject close to my heart. I feel very close to Marius Robyr and Hugo Steinegger in particular, who show enormous enthusiasm and much joy in their commitment to skiing. If they are interested, Marius and Hugo would certainly take priority. They both do sensational work. But let’s wait and see what the future holds. For the time being, I’m a skier and I want to do my best on the slopes.