One of the smallest Olympic teams managed to pull off some of the biggest results! Monaco’s team made history at this year’s winter Olympics in Beijing. Bobsledders Rudy Rinaldi and Boris Vain attained the sixth fastest time in the two-man bobsleigh event. Never before in history has a Monegasque athlete finished with better results at any Olympic Games. Downhill skier Arnaud Alessandria, Monaco’s third athlete at the Winter Games, also broke records for the Principality. After competing in three competitions, he obtained the best result Monaco has ever had in an Olympic skiing event.
“The House of Speed”
Hearts were racing and fans were cheering on athletes from around the globe at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre, also known as The House of Speed and the venue for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events during this year’s Winter Games.
During their first run, Rudy Rinaldi and Boris Vain got ninth out of 30, before ranking seventh after their second and final run of the first day. According to Rudy Rinaldi, the team was disappointed with the first day’s outcome, especially because the team managed better results in training.
In the running for a bronze medal
On the second day, after a restoring night’s sleep, the team hit the ice with incredible speed during their first run of the day. Jetting down a tricky track with 16 curves at different angles and slopes, the team raced across the finish line with a time of 59.57 seconds, moving them up two places in the standings. All of a sudden, the Monegasques were in the running for a bronze medal, only 0.21 seconds behind the third place Germans, Christophe Hafer and Matthias Sommer.
But a medal was not in the cards for the lightening-fast duo, when their final descent clocked in at 1:00.05, or tenth place, their worst result in the entire competition. Although their Olympic medal dreams were brought to a stuttering halt, not all was lost. Red and white supporters in Beijing and back home in Monaco watching from their screens were still elated with the bobsledders’ results.
Best Olympic performance for Monaco in history
With their sixth place finish, Rudy Rinaldi and Boris Vain obliterated the previous record performance: Patrice Sevette and Jérémy Bottin’s 12th place finish in the in 2006 bobsleigh event. Monaco fans may have been overjoyed with the result, but one member of bobsleigh team couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. In a quick interview right after the race, Rudy Rinaldi confessed that he was a little sad because he wanted to please everyone and get closer to the podium. According to the athlete, their result may have surprised a lot of people, but it was at their current level. A level which has considerably improved since their last Games in 2018, when the pair came in 19th. Boris Vain, on the other hand, was very pleased with the result, saying that sixth place for Monaco is an incredible source of great pride.
Another broken record for Monaco in skiing
Beijing 2022 was Arnaud Alessandria’s second Games, the first being Sochi in 2014, when the athlete was only 20 years old. Arnaud Alessandria began this year’s Games with an emotional and magical opening ceremony, when he proudly represented Monaco as the flag bearer. He scanned the vast audience for the ex-Olympian Prince Albert II, who was there in support of the three competing athletes, watching Monaco’s colours being carried across the world stage.
Although the mountains surrounding Beijing are usually full of snow in February, the Xiaohaituo Mountains were covered in artificial snow for this year’s Olympics. Workers groomed the slopes for four months before competitors arrived. The compact snow provided a lot of grip and predictability for Arnaud Alessandria, who enjoyed the skiing conditions.
After the downhill competition was delayed for one day due to high winds, he managed to finish 29th, just barely reaching his goal of finishing in the top 30. Next up for the skier was the Super-G, which Arnaud Alessandria decided to enjoy to the fullest, as he feels less competitive about this event compared to the downhill competition. Yet he still managed to attain good time in the event and finish 31st.
Arnaud Alessandria’s Olympics closed with the demanding combined event. For the downhill part of the competition, he finished in 15th, or 2.5 seconds longer than his personal best. The next part of the competition was the slalom, a tricky race for most skiers, but it was especially difficult for Arnaud Alessandria because the athlete has had back surgery in the past, and the bumpy event can cause his back to seize up. By the second run of the combined, Arnaud Alessandria’s back was locked and his only goal at the time was to get to the bottom. He crossed the finish line 12 seconds behind the best time in the slalom round, but with a big smile on his face. He finished 13th, the best result Monaco has ever accomplished in an Olympic skiing event.
Straight after the Olympics, Monaco’s best skier has resumed physical preparation as he will be off to Norway at the beginning of March for the last round of the World Cup. After that, he will head to Andorra for the European Cup finals before the French Championships in Auron at the end of March.
Prince Albert II salutes the historic performances of Monaco’s athletes
Straight after this year’s Games, Prince Albert II spoke about how proud he is of Monaco’s results and he personally congratulated the athletes. He told Rudy Rinaldi and Boris Vain that he was very happy with their outstanding performance, especially since both athletes had to overcome serious physical issues while preparing for the Olympics. Boris Vain underwent a surgery for a hernia last June which paralyzed a part of his left leg, while Rudy Rinaldi sustained a foot injury last year and tested positive for COVID-19 in December.
The Prince himself was able to expertly analyze the duo’s performance as he has competed in five Winter Olympics in the bobsleigh. When you finish 6th at the Games, regardless of the discipline, you are considered the best, said the Prince in a recent press interview. Prince Albert II also revealed that he secretly hopes for a podium position in four years, at the Milano Cortina Winter Olympics in 2026.
Looking back on Monaco’s Olympic appearances
Monaco first participated in the Olympics in 1920 and has competed in most Games since then. No athlete from Monaco has ever won an Olympic medal, although Julien Médecin did win a bronze medal for architecture at the 1924 Olympics, when the Games also included art competitions. Monaco was first represented in the bobsleigh by Prince Albert II, who is also an International Olympic Committee Member. The Prince competed in the Winter Games from 1988 to 2002.