Olympic dreams come true for Kosovo skier Kiana Kryeziu

Jan 23, 2022, 5:01 AM | Updated: Jan 24, 2022, 1:52 am
Kiana Kryeziu trains at the Arxhena Ski center in Dragas, Kosovo on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. The 17...

Kiana Kryeziu trains at the Arxhena Ski center in Dragas, Kosovo on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. The 17-year-old Kryeziu is the first female athlete from Kosovo at the Olympic Winter Games after she met the required standards, with the last races held in Italy. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

BROD, Kosovo (AP) — Competing in the giant slalom at the Beijing Olympics will be a giant step for 17-year-old Kiana Kryeziu and her country of Kosovo.

Kryeziu is the first female athlete from Kosovo at the Winter Games after she met the qualifying standard during races held in Italy.

“I really didn’t expect it would happen this early,” Kryeziu told The Associated Press. “It was one of my biggest goals. It was one of my dreams and now all is becoming reality.”

Not that it’s been easy, she said, with a lot of hard training as well as finding the money for an expensive sport.

Kryeziu had her main financial support from sponsors, though she’s grateful also for help from Kosovo’s ski federation, Olympic committee and sports ministry.

Equally important, “just one phone call away” was the support of her father and coach.

“Her participation in the Olympics is the greatest achievement and, who knows, any good result (is possible),” her coach Agim Pupovci said.

Visar Kryeziu, Kryeziu’s father, said her achievement in making the Olympics “shocked us, as well as all the nation.”

Kryeziu started to race as a skier around 10 or 11 years old.

“And then I fall in love with it,” Kryeziu said, calling it “passion and happiness” since then.

Her father, who is a photographer with The Associated Press, saw the potential.

“I saw that if I invested 10% of my time on her, the return was 110%,” Visar Kryeziu said. “The secret behind it is a lot of work, lots of commitment, passion for the sport and dedication.”

Her training drained the family’s budget but financial support from sponsors allowed her to train in Austria and Italy last year.

Kryeziu’s ambition is to finish no more than 10 seconds behind the winner in Beijing. The Olympics begin Feb. 4.

The teenager said she cried when Majlinda Kelmendi (Rio de Janeiro 2016), and Nora Gjakova and Distria Krasniqi (Tokyo 2020) won Olympic gold medals in judo for Kosovo.

Kosovo became a member of the International Olympic Committee in 2014.

After the 1998-99 conflict that killed some 13,000 people and ended after NATO bombed Serbia to stop its crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians, Kosovo was first governed by the United Nations and in 2008 declared independence. It is not recognized by Serbia.

Kryeziu is in her last year at high school.

“Juggling school, sport, family and social life is very hard,” she said, but “it seems I’ve been able to find the perfect balance.”


Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.

Follow Llazar Semini at https://twitter.com/lsemini


More AP Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against...
Associated Press

Wilson cleared by doctors, will start for Jets at Pittsburgh

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Zach Wilson will start at quarterback for the New York Jets at Pittsburgh on Sunday, six weeks after having knee surgery. Coach Robert Saleh announced the decision Wednesday to have the second-year QB make his season debut “if all goes well this week” at practice. Wilson had been ramping up […]
1 day ago
Denmark's Kasper Dolberg, second left, celebrates scoring with teammates Christian Eriksen, center ...
Associated Press

Denmark to wear World Cup jerseys that protest host Qatar

GENEVA (AP) — Denmark will wear team jerseys at the World Cup that protest the human rights record of host nation Qatar, with a black option unveiled Wednesday to honor migrant workers who died during construction work for the tournament. “The color of mourning,” kit manufacturer Hummel said in a post on Instagram releasing the […]
1 day ago
Australia's Lauren Jackson poses for a selfie with a young fan following their win over Japan at th...
Associated Press

Lauren Jackson, Aussie fans enjoying her World Cup finale

SYDNEY (AP) — Thirty minutes after Australia knocked off Canada in the preliminary round of the women’s basketball World Cup, Lauren Jackson was back on the court signing autographs and posing for selfies with hundreds of adoring fans. They couldn’t get enough of the Australian star and she reciprocated the love, not wanting to leave […]
1 day ago
Germany's head coach Hans-Dieter Flick, left, shakes hands with England's head coach Gareth Southga...
Associated Press

World Cup Watch: European giants showing flaws before Qatar

LONDON (AP) — All roads now lead to Qatar. With the conclusion of the group stage of the Nations League, Europe’s top soccer countries have played their final competitive games ahead of the World Cup. Here’s how things are shaping up for a continent that has provided the last four winners of the sport’s biggest […]
1 day ago
Two Nepali sherpa guides, second right and fourth right, who survived an avalanche at a lower eleva...
Associated Press

Body of missing famed U.S. extreme skier recovered in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — The body of a famed U.S. extreme skier who went missing this week after falling from the world’s eighth-highest mountain was recovered Wednesday and transported to Nepal’s capital. Hilaree Nelson, 49, was skiing down from the 8,163-meter (26,775-foot) summit of Mount Manaslu with her partner, Jim Morrison, on Monday when she […]
1 day ago
El relevista de los Padres de San Diego Nick Martínez reacciona durante el sexto inning del juego ...
Associated Press

Padres beat Dodgers 4-3 in 10 to reduce magic number to 4

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jorge Alfaro is used to being in position to walk off games. Just not with a walk-off walk. Alfaro drew a bases-loaded free pass from Craig Kimbrel with two outs in the 10th inning and the San Diego Padres beat the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on Tuesday night […]
1 day ago
Olympic dreams come true for Kosovo skier Kiana Kryeziu