Who was Paco Fernández Ochoa? What milestones and curiosities bring us closer to him and his story? He was the first alpine skier of Spanish origin to give Spain a victory in snow sports and, in the same way that we discovered Blanca Fernández Ochoa in a previous article, today we want to show you who was his brother.
It was 1972 and the world fixed its gaze on the peninsula that had just seen the birth of a star. Francisco Fernández Ochoa, or as his closest friends would call him 'Paquito', marked the beginning of a lineage of Olympic athletes among his brothers who would follow in his footsteps, as happened with Blanca. In this way, in our article today we will tell you all those curious facts about Paco Fernandez Ochoa that you may not have known.
1. WHERE AND WHEN WAS PACO FERNÁNDEZ OCHOA BORN?
Francisco Fernández Ochoa was born in the year 1950, on February 25th. Originally from Madrid but raised in the mountains, to be more exact in Cercedilla, in the Sierra de Guadarrama. The reason? His father was a ski instructor in Puerto de Navacerrada and he, being the eldest of 7 siblings, was the first to have contact with alpine sports, thus awakening his passion and innate talent.
2. HOW DID YOU LEARN TO SKI?
As his uncle would say, he learned “the hard way”. With an unorthodox method, his uncle Manolo used to go with Paco through the slopes of Navacerrada and there they would see the odd descent. Paco, as his relatives remind him, was always very curious, but at the same time somewhat cautious. His uncle Manolo had seen that "spark" in him, so he told him things like: "either throw yourself away or I'll give you two hosts." And Paco, only 6 years old, did nothing but obey. But there was an innate confidence in him: playing snow sports was in his blood.
3. WHAT WERE THE FIRST YEARS OF THE LIFE OF PACO FERNÁNDEZ OCHOA LIKE?
His childhood was always surrounded by snow and mountains, so at the age of 10 he decides to tell his parents that he would like to prepare for some professional competition. It was then that, when he was 13 years old, at the Andorra Grand Prix he had his first debut in the special slalom and finished fourth. It was a big surprise for both him and his family. Finally, it was they who made the decision that, with almost a year left to finish his studies, he should drop out of ESO and dedicate himself entirely to alpine skiing.
4. THE PALMARES OF PACO FERNÁNDEZ OCHOA
The first prize was the Andorran Grand Prix in 1963 where he obtained fourth place. Then, he won the Primera Nieve Trophy in the Aran Valley where he surpassed the until then champion Luis Viu, also Spanish. Years later and with a little more experience, at the age of 18 he decided to make his first Olympic debut at the Grenoble games where he placed 23rd in slalom and downhill, a situation that began to encourage him to continue pursuing his dream: to achieve an Olympic medal.
5. THE MOST CRITICAL MOMENTS IN THE CAREER OF PACO FERNÁNDEZ OCHOA
Throughout his sports and professional career, the Olympian experienced ups and downs that put his life at risk on a professional level. The first of these was in 1966 when he was just 16 years old and just beginning to compete in the big leagues. He suffered a serious fall that triggered a deviation in the spine, spending almost two months without being able to ski and being at the gates of one of the most important competitions of his career at that time: the Cervinia championship. Some time later, in 1970 he suffers another accident that causes him to lose consciousness in Val Gardena.
6. FRANCO CONGRATULATED HIM AFTER HIS VICTORY
He never considered himself a political person and, however, after his victory in Japan, it was suspected that on his return he would be accompanied by the highest levels of the State. When he arrived in Madrid, the streets idolized him and he was a true hero. When he got to Pardo, Franco came out of there to congratulate him, shook his hand and whispered some phrases to him that he remembers telling him that Spain needed more young people like him.
7. PACO FERNÁNDEZ OCHOA AND HIS LOVE FOR REAL MADRID
he was always behind the scenes supporting his team at the Bernabéu . However, work and professional career made him travel all over the world and that prevented him from attending all the games of his much loved soccer team. It was then that he began to be the image of the ski brand Ellenesse and it led him to move to Barcelona, how was he going to go cheer on his team at the stadium? It turned out that his friend, with whom he lived at the time, proposed a deal: Paco would pick up his children every day and in exchange he could let the Real Madrid shield be placed on the door of his friend's house, who was a fan of Real Madrid. Barcelona. Now that was a friendship!
8. THE OLYMPIC VICTORY OF PACO FERNÁNDEZ OCHOA
The moment of glory came when he was 22 years old. On February 13, 1972, there were 37 participants who were competing at that time in the slalom technical test. Paco was the fastest of them, with a time of 109 seconds and 27 hundredths. Paco beat world-class athletes such as Augert, Duvillard or Thoeni, and to the surprise of many it was the first gold medal that Spain had received and also in a winter sport, which left everyone stunned because he was an athlete from from a country considered warm and with little tradition in snow sports. What they didn't know was that Navacerrada had raised him.
9. THE SHOWER THAT WAS ABOUT TO LEAVE PACO FERNÁNDEZ OCHOA WITHOUT AN OLYMPIC MEDAL
As a funny anecdote, when he won Olympic Gold and was about to receive it, Paco thought it would be a good idea to go shower first before receiving the medal, since that way he would be in better condition for such an important event. That's when she decided to go take a shower and get dressed appropriately to receive the award. However, when they went to enter the place of the ceremony, to which they were already late, the person who controlled the entrance did not believe him and his friend. According to him, they did not believe him because he was Spanish and, in Paco's words: “it was as if an Austrian were trying to enter the sales place to claim a prize”.
10. LIFE: A SLALOM
Paco Fernández Ochoa was undoubtedly an athlete capable of anything, but lymphatic cancer became his toughest test, stealing his last breath at his house in Cercedilla in the year 2006 . Months ago they had discovered a tumor the size of an orange: unfortunately the cancer was too advanced. At that moment, Paco felt afraid, but seeing the support of his family and friends, he plucked up courage and argument and began to see that stage of his life as a slalom. He preferred to fall for being brave than for being a coward, so he was willing to give a thousand for a thousand. In his last days he held out to the fullest because he wanted to be at the tribute in which he would be offered in the town that saw him grow up: Cercedilla. It was there that a statue was planted in his honor, and in his speech he argued that one could be happy with the disease and that life is a gift that should not be denied and from which you always emerge victorious. The only thing he missed and regretted not being able to do was be a grandfather. He died at the age of 56 and with a career full of victories.