While Manon Ouaiss is gearing up for the 2022 Winter Olympics, the main thing on her mind is to represent Lebanon, which is going through a major financial crisis, in the most honourable way possible. The 21-year-old alpine ski racer is the only female representing the country of her birth at the XXIV Olympic Winter Games, taking place from 4-20 February in the Chinese regions of Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou. Whether the excited Ouaiss wins a medal or not, one thing’s for sure, she will certainly spread some cheer as she skillfully zig zags her way down the mountain.
The Shahtoul native, who trains in places like Courchevel and Méribel, has had a good lead up to Beijing 2022. While representing the Lebanese women’s skiing team with Carlie Maria Iskandar during last year’s four-day Small Evolving Ski (SES) Nations Cup, she was a three-time Gold medalist. In February 2021, a month after earning that first place, Ouaiss represented Lebanon in the FIS (International Ski Federation) Alpine World Ski Championships in Italy’s Cortina d’Ampezzo. During the season, the Faraya Sporting member also won six Gold medals during the Lebanese championships held in the Cedars.
Ouaiss’s earlier feats include representing Lebanon at the Alpine World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden, in 2019 and at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Davos, Switzerland, in 2018. Additionally, in 2017, she won Silver and Bronze medals at the SES Nations cup, while the year before saw her score a Silver medal at the Asian Alpine Ski Championships. Additionally, 2016 saw Ouaiss being selected from a panel of over 200 students to represent Lebanon at the Jeux Internationaux de la Jeunesse in Singapore. She participated in the aquathlon, climbing, orienteering, badminton and touch rugby categories during the international sports event.
While qualifying for the Olympics is an impressive accomplishment in itself, the Beirut-born skier has managed to do it while studying for a master’s degree in law. Willpower, zeal and hard work have helped Ouaiss, who headed to France’s l’Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas after obtaining her French baccalaureate in Beirut, juggle her various ambitions. The go-getter even finds time to volunteer with NGOs like Lebanon’s Offre-Joie and France’s Pierre Claver Assas.
The unwavering Ouaiss, who hopes to qualify for the 2023 Courchevel and Méribel World Championships, started skiing when she was four years old. With support and encouragement from her family, she became passionate about the sport that blends principles and precise technique with an adrenaline rush and being amidst beautiful settings. She soon became a force to be reckoned with and was even ready to qualify for the Winter Olympics in 2018. While an injury meant Ouaiss’s dream had to put on the backburner when she was 16, her will and fighting spirit have ensured she’s made it come true.