Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring

Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring

Coming into the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Dominik felt no pressure. His season had been nothing to get excited about, 7th and 9th places at the Le Grand Bornand BMW IBU World Cup back in December were the lone highlights. Shooting was not going well, but the skiing was; there was always the chance that something good might happen. It did. He won a Bronze medal in the opening Men’s 10K sprint and anchored Italy’s Bronze medal Mixed Relay team. His life then changed forever in so many ways, but “I am still the same person as before; that is for sure!”

The veteran Italian biathlete is a perfect example of #UnitedBy, bringing the Olympic movement and ideals back home and sharing it through actions and deeds. Windisch is also a role model for young kids, shares his success with the next generation and has plans involving a very special ring for his girlfriend.

Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring

Success with Hard Work and a Motto
Before Pyeongchang, Windisch was far from a biathlon unknown. He had a Sochi OWG Mixed Relay Bronze medal, was a World Cup winner, with a nice collection of mixed relay podiums over the years to boot. The Antholz Valley native came up the hard way; never the best skier or most accurate on the range, but simply a hard worker who believed in himself. From an early age, he lived by the motto, “Quitters never win; winners never quit.” Those words proved oh-so-true last February.

“It was really exciting because I went to Pyeongchang without any expectations; without any pressure which I think helps in the Olympic Games. Many of the favorites had lots of pressure; it was very difficult for them to do their best.”

Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring

Sprint Luck
In his first competition at Pyeongchang, the men’s sprint, Windisch battled the cold windy conditions, cleaning prone and missing a single standing shot. “It was really cold, I tried to cover everything; the wind was not easy because it kept changing… We taped my hands and fingers because of the cold, to keep the wind out of my gloves and keep my hands warm.”

Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring

Leaving the standing stage, the 28-year-old pulled out the fast skiing he knew was in his body. It carried him to a surprising Bronze medal. “I think I was lucky that day. With the hard conditions; I was the lucky one, when Fourcade and Johannes had bad days. You need luck at the right moment and you need to perform well. That happened for me.”

Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring

Life-Changer
That medal was a life-changer. “The individual medal did change my life, because suddenly all of the attention was on me. I was the first Italian medalist in Pyeongchang so all of the media wanted to talk to me, which was completely new.”

"Even after the Olympics, I had so many interviews and invitations. Suddenly the people started to know me without my racing suit and glasses. They know my face now. On the street and in shops, I get the feeling that people recognize me, which is strange, but really nice.”

Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring

Nervous Route to Second Bronze Medal
Windisch became a bigger celebrity when he followed teammates Lisa Vittozzi, Dorothea Wierer and Lukas Hofer by anchoring Italy to a Mixed Relay Bronze medal, matching their Sochi result. That second medal in Korea was almost harder than wining the unexpected Bronze in Sochi. “After Sochi, we had many mixed relay podiums, so everyone was expecting the podium. I was really nervous as the anchor leg; I stayed in the cabin so I would not hear about how the others were shooting; I just warmed up. When I went to the start, I saw we were in first; the nerves were there. Once I stated all was normal. I had that tunnel vision feeling…Leaving the range for the last loop was very hard. I knew I was going for a medal or nothing. All my teammates were on the course cheering for me.”

Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring

Olympic Emotions
Months after that day, he admits that that finish line scene was one of those moments that can only happen in the Olympics. When I crossed the finish line, there were not words, just emotions, crying and a bit crazy… Those emotions did not need words; it was a dream coming true for us. That was a special Olympic moment; I will never forget it.”

Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring

Inspiring School Visits
Returning home with two OWG medals, the local hero Windisch was determined to give back and inspire a new generation. “My local school invited me to the annual day when they plant trees in the forest. This is something I did when I was a kid. It was a surprise when I showed up; some children were excited and others shy. They warmed up quickly when we started talking about sport and everyone wanted an autograph. Some came back 3 or 4 times; I signed pictures, heads and arms! It was really cute and sweet how they reacted. Many of them do biathlon and said, ‘I want to be like you.’ They are drawing pictures of me now according to the teacher. I am going back to actually talk to them and tell my story with my message, ‘Quitters never win; winners never quit.’ That is one of the most important things for me.”

Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring

“I Remember…”
The now triple Olympic Bronze medalist remembers being exactly like those kids in that same village school many years ago.  “I was exactly the same. When I was their age, we had out big superstars here in the valley like Olympic medalist Johann Passler and IBU World Champion Willi Pallhuber. I watched the competitions; if I saw them running, I tried to stay with them. I had posters in my room and drew pictures of biathletes. It was quite emotional to see these children reacting the same way.”

Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring

Scholarship Auction
Beyond that, Windisch wanted to use his Olympic success to help young athletes closer to becoming the next generation of Italian Winter sports stars. “I auctioned off my Olympic Mixed Relay race suit and bib for charity. The money went to a group that gives scholarships to help young athletes for sports school. When I was young, this same group helped me so I could go to sports school. Now I wanted to give back. We raised 2,500 Euros that will go to 4 or 5 athletes. It is not so much about the amount, but the publicity for the group. It was a message to other athletes so they might join in to help support this group and future athletes.”

Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring

The Very Special Ring
He has one more plan for sharing his Olympic success. It started just after he left the stage with that first Italian medal in Pyeongchang. “This was my best Olympic moment. People (and reporters) asked me what I would do with my medal. I said that I wanted to use the material from the medal to create a wedding ring for my girlfriend. Saying that was a special moment that I will always remember. Now that project has started but is not done yet, because I want to do it well!”

Dominik Windisch’s OWG Medal: Sharing Success, Inspiring Youth and a Special Ring
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