Maria Ntanou, AISTS alumna, two times Olympic Games torch relay participant and now two times Olympian has qualified to compete at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games next month for the 10km Freestyle Cross Country skiing event. 

Maria qualified for the upcoming Games last Friday in a 5km classic race at the Balkan Cup in Turkey.  She was able to decrease her FIS points average with a result of 82 points for that race, which enable her to qualify. 

“It was a really tough race, so I was really happy with my 3rd place finish, especially with it sealing my place in the Greek team for PyeongChang.”

This will be Maria’s second Winter Olympic Games as a competing athlete. Maria competed at the Vancouver Games in 2010, at the age of 19.  After the games, she continued racing for one year but then decided to take a break from her sporting career and finish her studies in Economics.  She then moved to Lausanne to study sports management with AISTS in the MAS Class of 2014.  Now eight years on she really feels like she is at the peak of her career – both physically and mentally. 

“I am feeling really good – I feel it in my strength and I see it in my times.”

Maria decided 3 years ago that PyeongChang was the goal.  She was able to combine her schedule of working with training and competing in over 60 races to ensure she was at her best.  With the help of the people around her, her workplace – the FIE (International Fencing Federation), the Swiss and French ski team and her friends and family she has been able to reach her goal. 

“I am so lucky to have the support and guidance from so many people around me.  I will do my best to represent my country in the best possible way in PyeongChang.”

Maria is not the first AISTS alumni to compete at the Olympic Games after getting their AISTS Master of Advanced Studies in Sport Administration and Technology Degree.  Toni Wilhelm, class of 2013, 3x time Olympian recently competed at the Rio Olympic Games for Germany in windsurfing and Ralph Stöckli, class of 2007, 2x time Olympian at Turin and Vancouver for Switzerland in curling. 

“Never give up, always dream bigger that what you can achieve so that you find yourself somewhere in the middle” – Maria

With 15 days to the Games Maria’s game plan is to now rest and recover from her busy racing schedule she has just completed and then re-focus on PyeongChang with a training camp in the Jura mountains next week.  Maria will race on the 15th of February at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre in the PyeongChang Mountain Cluster.  The AISTS and our alumni community will be there to cheer her on and we will keep you updated via our social media channels. 

We wish Maria all the best for her lead up to PyeongChang and we will be cheering her on from all around the world on the 15th of February.  You can follow Maria on her FacebookTwitter and Instagram accounts.