Next Generation: Swiss talent Wendy Holdener

How does the 21-year-old live up to the high expectations created by her three medals in three days?
Wendy Holdener racing at the Alpine Ski World Cup 2014.
Wendy Holdener © Agence Zoom
By Riikka Rakic

At just 17 years old, Wendy Holdener dazzled the crowds at the FIS Junior World Championships and took home three medals in three days.

Two years later, the Swiss ski racing hope for tech events scored her first FIS World Cup podium, ending an almost ten year slalom hiatus for the Swiss ladies.

When Wendy made her World Cup debut as a 17-year-old, she was the number one in the world rankings for her age group. Now at 21 years old she is beginning her fifth season in the World Cup. But the transition to the top echelons of ski racing has not been as easy as many may have expected.

Just when things seemed to be on track and her first podium came along, she hurt her shoulder in a motorcycle accident.

It was a miracle that she managed to start the season opener in November. Unfortunately things did not go her way thereafter for most of last season. Until the Finals, where she missed another podium by just four hundredths of a second!

Swiss alpine ski racer Wendy Holdener on a hike.
Wendy Holdener says Hello! © Wendy Holdener

“Basically, I’ve needed two years to get settled in the World Cup. In the very beginning, it went well.”

Then it got tough. Last season was a big learning experience for me...

“I was lucky to race from the start but then nothing went as planned. I could not show what I can do, which was very depressing. The pressure was on and I no longer knew how to enjoy skiing. But with some time away from the tour, I found my zeal again, just in time!”

Swiss alpine ski racer Wendy Holdener in Barcelona
Relaxing to gather strength for next season © Wendy Holdener

Normally, taking it easy is something that Wendy says she is very good at. “When I’m at home I can just hang out or chill on the couch. If I have more time, I head for the ocean to do something cool.”

Unfortunately it is her ambition that is both her virtue and vice.

I am very driven, sometimes maybe too much so...

Wendy has been skiing since she was two and a half years old. At 15, she moved to train and study in Engelberg, two hours away from home, where she finished a degree in hotel management last July. She has been a skiing professional since last autumn.

Alpine skier Wendy Holdener having fun at the beach.
Wendy expects to make big leaps again next season © Wendy Holdener

“Starting the new season after being back up there has been a fantastic incentive.”

I think I only really realised that I am a professional skier this April.

“That is when I first had time for myself and could devote an entire day to training. I can now train better, and even have more time for recovery.”

Clearly the many pieces of the puzzle are falling in place for Wendy Holdener. We’re looking forward to seeing how she fares in 2015!

For more portraits of the up-and-coming ski racers, check out FIS World Cup superstar Aksel Lund Svindal’s picks for future ski stardom.

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