Brotherly love spurs on Swiss speed skater Gross

ST. MORITZ, Jan 17 – As speed skater Flavio Gross (SUI) raced across the finish line at the St. Moritz Speed Skating Oval during the final of the men’s mass start race, one volunteer felt the emotion of his 15th place finish more intensely than anyone else.

Leandro Gross, Flavio’s younger brother, had joined the volunteer team at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games to be close to his brother and was assigned to work in St. Moritz during the speed skating competition’s dramatic ending.

Flavio Gross |Thomas Lovelock for OISphotos.com

“It was really cool to help here, to see the athletes that close,” said Leandro who, at 16-years-old, is a year younger than his brother. “I was giving out the numbers and armbands to the athletes before the race and I had to put up the barriers.

“Now I have to go to school for Monday because I took time off to come here.”

For Flavio, the arrival of his brother delivered a motivational boost before the men’s final, which was won by the dominant Arito Motonaga (JPN) to claim his third medal of the Games.

Arito Motonaga (JAP) on his way to the gold medal in the speed skating mass start | Thomas Lovelock for OISphotos.com

“It was really cool to have him here,” said Flavio, who lives in Basel. “It’s been great for him to be close to the athletes.

“The last person to say good luck to me before the race was him when he was giving out the numbers for the helmets. He gave me his luck from the heart.

“It really helped to have him see me just before I went on the track and to have him so close before the race.”

Despite his disappointing finish in the mass start final, the event remains Flavio’s favourite race.

Olympic Channel Video: men-s-and-women-s-mass-start-speed-skating-highlights-winter-youth-olympic-games

The “aggression” of the large field of athletes trying to sprint for points as a pack gives him a buzz, though he was unable to see or hear his brother as he stood watching by the track.

“I was focusing on my race and what my coach was saying when I went past him,” said Flavio. “I couldn’t see or hear anything else.”

Meanwhile, Leandro has been inspired by the exciting atmosphere of a Winter YOG. His aim now is to match his brother’s achievements on the ice.

“It makes me proud to watch my brother skate at the Olympics,” he said. “I would hopefully like to do it myself one day. I love skating.”

OIS ma/kc/sg

By Olympic Information Service

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