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Nichakan Chinupun (THA). © Dylan Burns for OISphotos.com

Olympic Games News

Thailand’s winter sports revolution in evidence at Lausanne 2020

Date : 14 Jan 2020

Lausanne, Switzerland, January 13, 2020: Thirteen months ago, Thailand’s Nichakan “TK” Chinupun had never seen snow. Now she is a bona fide Winter Youth Olympian, having completed both runs to finish 37th out of a starting list of 78 athletes in the Alpine skiing women’s giant slalom on Sunday.

“The first time I saw snow it was very beautiful and I couldn’t believe how soft it was when I touched it. But I was scared to walk on it,” Chinupun said of her eye-opening trip to the Italian Alps in December 2018.

It did not take her long to get comfortable on the white stuff.

Thailand’s pioneering PyeongChang 2018 Olympic cross-country skier Karen Chanloung was Chinupun’s host in Italy and was blown away by the ability the teenager immediately showed.

“I was way more worried than she was,” said Chanloung, who welcomed 12 keen young athletes into her home as part of a government-backed mission to encourage native Thais to embrace winter sport.

“But I was really surprised how good she was right from the beginning. On the first day we went out and did some cross-country and straight away she was doing some downhills.”

For TK, who had first tried roller skiing just four months previously, the introduction to the real thing brought on an instant passion.

“I was so excited to try it,” she said. “I couldn’t believe how long the skis were. They were difficult to control and fast but I loved it straight away.”

A ski trip to Russia followed before Italian coach Attilio Perona, a resident in Thailand since 2017, agreed to take charge.

“I am really so, so proud,” the coach said of TK’s performance at the Winter YOG. “Today was really, really challenging. For the top ones it was amazing but for those not so skilled the piste and snow conditions were so tough.”

Thailand has five athletes at Lausanne 2020: two in alpine, two in cross-country and one in short track.



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