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‘Pink Panther’ Hagberg Forges an Identity of Her Own after Supreme Slalom Display

Special Olympics Sweden Invitational Games in Duved on February 02, 2020
Aurelia Hagberg (SO Sweden) in action during the alpine skiing slalom competition at the Special Olympics Sweden Invitational Games.
Photo by Erik Martensson

With the slalom slopes having become her second home, Swedish alpine skier Aurelia Hagberg showcased not only her talents, but also a custom-made set of ski clothing at the Special Olympics Sweden Invitational Games 2020.

Being determined to shine at the Invitational Games in Sweden, Hagberg had one hurdle to overcome before heading into the Alpine Skiing competition. Not a single outlet in her hometown sells ski clothing in her size, after which she decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I asked a friend of mine to make me an outfit instead, as it was really hard to find one in the shops,” Hagberg said. “I was involved in the design and because I love the colour pink and panthers, I decided to go for something unique.

“I have got butterflies in my stomach because I get to compete here. I am so happy and I really like how my uniform has turned out. Everybody has been so nice to me.”

Her unique outfit has earned Hagberg the nickname ‘Pink Panther’. On Tuesday, Hagberg clocked a time of 1 minute, 23:48 seconds to clinch bronze in the Advanced Giant Slalom, an event that sees skiers combine the elements of speed and technique as they race down a snowy slalom course.

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Aurelia Hagberg SO Sweden and JinaBacklund SO Sweden, on the lift up to compete in Alpine Skiing at the Sweden Special Olympics Invitational 2020. Photo by Claire Behan

Hagberg first started skiing after she got inspired by a South Korean athlete, who competed in a Special Olympics event back in 2013. As her father, Staffan, explained: “We were looking at a TV program called ‘Landet Runt’ and thought that this could maybe be something for Aurelia.

“After doing some research, I found a competition organized by Special Olympics Sweden and asked them if she could join and compete. They said yes, so we went there and she then won everything.”

Hagberg went on to win one medal of each colour at the World Nordic-Alpine Skiing Championships 2016 in Zakopane, Poland. Even more impressive was her performance at the World Winter Games 2017 in Austria, where she secured silver in Giant Slalom.

In a quest to find sponsors to support Hagberg with her training session, her father created a Facebook page. “Leading up to the World Winter Games in Austria, we went around to ask companies to sponsor her. A lot of people helped her out and now we have over 200 followers of the page.”

“We have gone through so much to get here,” Staffan Hagberg said, as emotions got the better of him on the final day of competition. “But do not worry; they are happy tears.

“You cannot imagine how much it means to have the support from Special Olympics and to meet all the people who are so happy and supportive. It means everything to me and I am so proud of her.”

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Lucas de Jong (SO Netherlands), Alpine Skiing Samuel Windross (SO Canada), Alpine Skiing Filippa Améen (SO Sweden), Alpine Skiing Aurelia Hagberg (SO Sweden), Alpine Skiing Elmie Gerhardsson (SO Sweden), Alpine Skiing Jina Backlund (SO Sweden), Alpine Skiing Manuel Auer (SO Austria). Photo by Karl Nilsson

The 21-year-old Hagberg, who also won bronze in the Advanced Slalom and Super-G at the Invitational Games 2020, added: “To win three medals here in Sweden is amazing. I was a little bit nervous to get on the podium, but the medals will for sure get a special place on my wall back home.”

With her eyes set on the World Winter Games that are going to take place next year, Hagberg hopes to add more silverware to here ever-growing collection of medals and trophies.

“I hope to get selected for the World Winter Games. I will keep on training and stay focused. Hopefully I can then win gold,” she said.

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