Saturday 21 September 2019

Searchers hunt for Spanish Olympian missing in mountains

Blanca Fernandez Ochoa was Spain’s first female Winter Olympic medallist in 1992.

Volunteers walk with a civil guard and a police officer after searching in woodland area in Cercedilla (AP)
Volunteers walk with a civil guard and a police officer after searching in woodland area in Cercedilla (AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

Hundreds of rescuers are searching a mountainous area outside Madrid 10 days after former alpine ski racer and Olympic medallist Blanca Fernandez Ochoa went missing.

Spain’s National Police said Ms Fernandez, 56, was last spotted on surveillance video at a shopping centre on August 24.

Her car was later found in Cercedilla, a mountainous village and resort popular with hikers where her family has roots.

More than 200 police officers, firefighters and forest rangers aided by tracking dogs, helicopters and hundreds of volunteers are searching the steep landscape of gullies and peaks covered by pine forests.

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The skier won a bronze medal in 1992 (AP)

Ms Fernandez won bronze in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, becoming Spain’s first female Winter Olympic medallist.

Her elder brother, Francisco Fernandez Ochoa, a 1972 gold medallist, has a statue in Cercedilla.

According to Spanish media, relatives only alerted authorities about her disappearance on August 29 because it was not unusual for the former alpine ski champion to go on multiple-day hikes in the area, even without her phone.

A police spokesman for the Madrid province said that authorities are looking into “various investigation threads”.

PA Media

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