The body of Spanish Olympic alpine skier Blanca Fernandez Ochoa was found in the mountains near Madrid two weeks after she was last seen alive in the outskirts of the city.
She was 56. Spanish police began an intense search for her three days ago and are still investigating the cause of death, per BBC.
Fernandez Ochoa was a four-time Olympian who became the first Spanish woman to medal at the Winter Olympics. She won bronze in the slalom event in 1992.
Spanish skier goes missing in mountains
Olivia Fresneda, Fernandez Ochoa’s daughter, reported her mother missing on Aug. 23. The skier, who is also reportedly an avid hiker, left home without her phone and had not used credit cards, per the BBC. Her family was “very worried” and issued a public appeal for help in El Pais, the city’s newspaper.
Officials told reporters Sunday that the car Fernandez Ochoa was driving, a black Mercedes A-Class, was seen in Cercedilla, a town northwest of Madrid.
Her body was found Wednesday by an off-duty officer from the Guardia Civil police force at La Peñota, a nearby mountain outside of Madrid, according to CNN.
"I think she must have gone to the family's favorite area," her sister, Dolores Fernandez Ochoa, told the outlet Hola! during the search. "I am sure she decided to go there and something has happened to her. I can't think of any other explanation."
La colaboración entre profesionales resulta fundamental en la búsqueda de Blanca Fernández Ochoa. En este caso, especialistas en intervención en altura del GEO de @policia junto a miembros de @cruzrojaesp en la zona montañosa de #Cercedilla pic.twitter.com/rhYtMueJxy— Policía Nacional (@policia) September 3, 2019
Per the department’s updates on Twitter throughout the search, police used specialist teams with drones and helicopters to locate her.
Who is Fernandez Ochoa?
Fernandez Ochoa was born in Madrid and came from an Olympic skiing family. She competed in four Olympics from 1980 to 1992 and had four World Cup victories in 10 seasons. She reached the podium 20 times.
According to the BBC, she continued to stay in the spotlight after retirement with appearances on reality TV shows.
All four of her siblings were skiers for Spain. Her brother, Francisco Fernandez Ochoa, was the first and so far only Spanish skier to win gold when he topped the podium at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Japan. He died in 2006.
"It is a very sad day for Spanish sports," said María José Rienda, Spain's secretary of state for sports, via BBC.
Fernandez Ochoa has two children, Olivia and David.
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