Blanca Fernandez Ochoa, Olympic skiing legend, found dead in mountains near Madrid

The body of Olympic legend Blanca Fernandez Ochoa, 56, was found outside of Madrid in the mountains on Wednesday, three days after a large search for the skiing champion was conducted and eleven days after she went missing. According to Spain’s National Police, she was last seen alive about two weeks ago, on Aug. 23, outside of the city. 

A spokesperson told CNN that an off-duty officer from the Guardia Civil police found Fernandez Ochoa’s body at the La Penota mountain, which is located near Cercedilla. The force said on Twitter that the massive search operation included drones, helicopters and specialist teams. The teams located her car on Sunday, a few days before the body was found. 

The athlete frequently took hikes by herself in the mountains, so her family at first was not worried when they did not hear from her for a period of time. But the Olympian left her cell phone at home, and her family contacted authorities after not being able to contact her.

While the search was still going on. her sister Dolores spoke about about where Fernandez Ochoa may have gone:

“I think she must have gone to the family’s favorite area,” she said. “I am sure she decided to go there and something has happened to her. I can’t think of any other explanation.”

Fernandez Ochoa competed in four Winter Olympics between 1980 and 1992. At the 1992 games in Albertville, France, she became the first Spanish woman to win a Winter Olympic medal, finishing in third place in slalom.

Blanca Fernandez Ochoa was one of five siblings that represented Spain in the Winter Olympics. Her brother Francisco Fernandez Ochoa, who died in 2006, became the first — and is still the only — Spaniard to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. He finished first in slalom at the 1972 games.

Celebrities and athletes from Spain and around the world have taken to social media to honor the life of Blanca Fernandez Ochoa.

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