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NEWS FEATURE Pyeongchang love stories abound amid the snow and ice By Frank Thomas, dpa

Europe, Europa
12.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Many prominent couples, who got together through sport, are supporting each other at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Athletes say having your partner at the Games can really help, but may sometimes be a hindrance.

Pyeongchang, South Korea (dpa) - They keep their fingers crossed for each other, but they are rarely seen in public hand in hand.

There are a raft of couples at the Winter Olympics, balancing their own sporting commitments with trying to urge a loved one onto glory.

German Nordic combined skier Fabian Riessle and cross-country skier Sandra Ringwald are pleased that they are competing for the first time together at the Olympics.

They are not living together because the cross-country skiers are housed in the Olympic Village while the Nordic combined athletes are in different accommodation near the competition venue.

"I‘ll try to see Sandra‘s events," Riessle said.

German biathletes Simon Schempp and Franziska Preuss have been a couple for almost two years. They do not parade their relationship in public, there are no joint interviews and no love stories in the tabloid press. They keep things very private.

But it is clear they are constantly motivating each other, especially after both suffered difficult times in their sport.

"Simon really supports me because he knows what it‘s like when things are not going so well. It‘s good that he‘s there," said Preuss, who grabbed an Olympic berth at the last moment after a long lay-off because of illness.

One of the most famous couples in winter sports are biathletes Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Darya Domracheva, who married in 2016 and have a daughter Xenia.

Norway‘s Bjoerndalen, 44, is the most successful Olympian of all time but missed out on qualifying for his seventh Games. But he is very much in Pyeongchang as a supporter of his Belarusian wife.

Domracheva is a three-time Olympic champion herself and a national hero. This time even Bjoerndalen is in her shadow.

"He is a great father and very supportive of me," Domracheva has said.

Bjorndalen returned the compliment: "Darya is a fantastic woman, a fantastic athlete."

German speed ??skater Claudia Pechstein says Matthias Grosse - attending in a not uncontroversial and unspecified role - is not only her partner, but her best motivator.

"I need Matthias by my side and I‘m glad that the German Olympic Sport Confederation has accredited him," said the most successful German Winter Olympian.

However, she does not share her apartment in the Olympic Village with her partner but with her team-mates Roxanne Dufter and Gabi Hirschbichler.

Alpine skiing also has its well-known couples. One example is United States star Mikaela Shiffrin dating Frenchman Mathieu Faivre.

Germany‘s Johannes Hoepfl is happy to be able to spend more time with his girlfriend and fellow snowboarder Ramona Hofmeister during the Games. Usually World Cup commitments mean they are in different places for competition.

"It‘s so cool that we‘re at the Olympics together now," Hoepfl said. "Normally there might just be an overlap of a day where we are both together at home."

Competing together at the Olympics though is the ultimate test of a relationship.

Curlers Anastasia Bryzgalova and Alexandr Krushelnitckii, Olympic athletes from Russia, got married last year and see no problem in playing together in the mixed doubles.

In contrast, Norwegian curling couple Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten admit they sometimes nag each other while playing and even had to go to a relationship therapist.

"It hasn‘t always strengthened our relationship. We can have quite a big argument out there on the ice, which can lead to a lot of discussions afterwards," said Skaslien.

"One time, one of these rows led to Magnus actually playing the wrong colour. We were red, and he got confused mid-match and thought we were yellow."

 

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