Valentina Aščić Makes History: First Croatian Speed Skater Competes at Winter Olympics!

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

COC / Jaki Franja
COC / Jaki Franja

Valentina Aščić is the first Croatia representative to compete at the Winter Olympics in Beijing and the first-ever Croatian to compete in speed skating! 

The 23-year-old Zagreb native fulfilled her dream. Valentina Aščić performed at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, in a discipline where Croatia was represented for the first time in its history. Aščić had her first appearance in the 500 meters race, and in a strong competition, she failed to book a spot in the quarterfinals.

Aščić performed immediately in the first group in respectable company with Florence Brunelle of Canada, Selma Poutsma of the Netherlands, and Tifany Huot Marchand of France.

Aščić finished third in the group with a time of 44,681 after the Frenchwoman fell in the middle of the race and dropped out. The two best from each of the eight groups and four other best third-place finishers went to the quarterfinals. 

Aščić was 23rd out of the 32 speedskaters in today’s race. She could have hoped to advance but depended on the result of other skaters. After the sixth group, she was overtaken by four third-placed competitors, leaving the Croatian Olympian without a chance for the quarterfinals. 

“When I went out on the ice, it seemed like a dream, but I managed to recover. I am delighted with the result, so I somehow planned to be around 20th place. I had a great start and was third already at the start, but I was a little disturbed by one girl’s fall due to contact, which is in our sport, and then a repeat start. I can go much faster; I just needed a little better preparation because I skated on this ice for the first time,” said Aščić after her debut.

The KBK Meteor Zagreb member, currently the only speed skating club in Croatia, is expected to perform in the 1500 meters on February 16. 

Aščić has been training in Belgium since the Zagreb earthquake, with Dutch coach Ingmar van Riel. She had been waiting a long time to go to Beijing. Namely, as she was recently infected with COVID-19, she had to have four negative PCR tests before boarding a plane to China. She arrived just two days before the race.

Source: HOO

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