Madagascar's Alpine Skier Awaits Historic Winter Games Debut

Malagasy alpine skier Mialitiana Clerc poses for a photo at the athletes' village in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 6, 2018. Clerc is the first woman from Madagascar to compete at the Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

(Olympics) Madagascar's alpine skier awaits historic Winter Games debut

By Joo Kyung-don

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- Madagascar's alpine skier Mialitiana Clerc may not be a medal contender at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, but she already may be a winner.

Clerc is the first Malagasy woman to take part in the Winter Olympics and the only athlete from her country to take part in this year's event. Madagascar made its Winter Games debut in 2006, with male alpine skier Mathieu Razanakolona.

"I'm very honored to be the first woman from Madagascar to participate in the Winter Olympics," she said Tuesday through a translator at the athletes' village in PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul. "It's just amazing to be here."

Clerc, 16, was born in Madagascar, but at 1 year old, she was adopted by French parents. She learned skiing at age 3 in France. Her father, Stephane Clerc, is now her coach at the Olympics.

"I've trained a lot in France, and other European countries," she said. "Before coming here, I also trained with Belgium skiers."

Unlike most Malagasy people, Clerc is familiar with snow and other winter sports environment. But in PyeongChang, what's not familiar is its freezing temperature.

"It's really cold, and I'm trying to get used to it," she said. "Especially today, it feels like it's colder at the base of the mountain."

In her first Olympics, Clerc said her goal is to make improvements every day.

"First, I want to finish my race," she said. "I also want to make progress. I want to compare my time with the gold medalist and will try to make improvements."

kdon@yna.co.kr

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