“Actually, I have always been brave. When I want to achieve something, I’ll do whatever it takes. I was already that way as a little girl,” says the Solothurn teenager. “Of course, I have great respect, but the speed we get in a Monobob, and the knowledge that I have control over the sled . . . it’s simply fascinating.” And then she speaks so enthusiastically about a run’s particularly demanding gradients and curves that it’s possible to get dizzy just listening to her. This young woman knows exactly what she’s doing. And she loves it.
Passion, ability and disciplined training have made Paulina one of the great young talents in her sport in a very short time. Her most recent career highlight: on February 20, 2016, she represented Switzerland in Monobob at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Norway, as one of the youngest of the 15 international athletes competing in the discipline. She achieved a respectable 8th place finish.The Youth Olympic Games were first held in 2010 and are part of the great Olympiad tradition: every four years, high-performing hopefuls between the ages of 15 and 18 compete against each other. “A dream” is what Paulina called it, almost incredulously, shortly before her departure.
There are still differences to the Olympic Games – for example in the type and number of events. Accordingly, Monobob is celebrating its Youth Olympic Games debut in Lillehammer: for several years, the challenging and attractive solo discipline has attracted a new, younger audience to bobsleigh. Paulina Götschi can only confirm this: when she tried it at a regional event, more for fun than as a serious competitor, her young life took a surprising turn. What happened next was an invitation to a training session – followed by a few rather sobering crashes – and finally the chance to try it on the famous natural ice run of St. Moritz. “It was in St. Moritz that it grabbed me,” she says.
And then, appropriate for such a fast-paced discipline, everything happened very quickly: Paulina took part in the “Sportsmen forged in Switzerland” program with the renowned bobsleigh racer Marcel Rohner, which included – in addition to the techniques and procedures of bobsleigh – strength and balance exercises.
In various qualifying races, the 15-year-old won her place at the Youth Olympic Games. And what does an athlete think when she’s flying down the run? “Most of it happens before the start – I have my rituals, mental techniques that I can call on. When I am on the run, I actually think about nothing else – because I have tunnel vision in the truest sense of the words,” she laughs.
And while her strategy appears to be very adult, Paulina is a normal, happy teenager with two older siblings, attentive parents and friends who provide her with news from home when she’s on the road. The stable network ensures that Paulina will not forget about her everyday life and that she also takes breaks – the 15-year-old even compensates for sports-related absences from school by overachieving.
Paulina has confirmed that her grades have improved since she started the sport. As she promised her parents she'd only keep bobsledding if her education didn't suffer, she's especially motivated.
This year, the young Swiss athlete competed at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in a brand new discipline.
The future of a new generation of athletes has begun. It is Paulina’s time. And, as she describes it: “It’s a great time!“