Police in Spain find body of former Olympic skier Blanca Fernandez Ochoa
Ochoa is found dead in mountains near Madrid 11 days after she went missing
The 1992 Winter Olympic bronze medalist was last seen in footage from a supermarket surveillance camera in Madrid on Aug 24
Drones, helicopters and police dogs have been searching in a mountain resort
Today police confirmed that the body found by a retired Civil Guard officer belonged to the Spanish sports hero
Police found a woman’s body in a mountainous area near Madrid ending the search for former Olympic bronze medalist Blanca Fernandez Ochoa, 56, who was last seen at a shopping centre in Madrid on August 24.
An intensive search involving drones, helicopters and police dogs has been underway in the mountain resort of Cercedilla since her Mercedes was found parked nearby.
Today it emerged a retired Civil Guard officer had discovered a woman’s body in an area called Pico de La Penota.
The discovery was made around 1pm local time and the Spanish government has since confirmed it was Blanca Ochoa’s body.
‘Solidarity, support and human warmth have been felt these days in the mountains of Cercedilla. Security forces and many volunteers have taken part in the search for Blanca Fernandez Ochoa. But nothing could be done. My affection to all her family,’ Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted.
Madrid-born Ochoa won the bronze medal in slalom at the 1992 Olympics at Albertville, France, and was the first Spanish woman to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.
Police appealed for the public’s help on Sunday after Ochoa was last seen on a supermarket surveillance video in the Madrid neighborhood of Pozuelo de Alarcon on August 24.
Blanca Ochoa won the bronze medal in slalom, [photo], at the 1992 Olympics at Albertville, France
Her family reported her missing on August 29.
They waited until then to report her disappearance because they said it was not unusual for her to go on hikes in the area, even without her phone, according to Spanish media reports.
She had told her family she planned to go walking in northern Spain but left her mobile at a house where she was living on and off with her sister Lola and never reached her destination.
Her car was later found in Cercedilla, a mountainous village and resort near Madrid, 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 have been searching the steep landscape of gullies and peaks covered by pine forests.
Her family have spent the last few days clinging to the hope she had suffered an accident while out hiking but was still alive.
Hundreds of police and volunteers were involved in the search operation fr the national hero
Ochoa was the first Spanish woman to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.
‘It is a very sad day for Spanish sports,’ Spain’s secretary of state for sports, Maria Jose Rienda, said in a statement.
During her World Cup career she had four victories, 20 podiums and 69 top-ten finishes.
She retired in March 1992 aged 28 and went on to compete in several Spanish TV reality shows.
Her four older siblings all competed in alpine ski racing for Spain in the Winter Olympics.
Her older brother Francisco won the gold medal in slalom at the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan.
It made him the first and only Spaniard to have won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. He died of lymphatic cancer in 2006.
Blanca’s daughter Olivia, one of the two children the retired skier had with diving school owner David Fresneda, plays rugby for Spain.
In a recent interview she described her bronze medal as a ‘great source of pride for women’s sport,’ adding: ‘At the time that medal felt like gold to me.’