Eleven days after Blanca Fernández Ochoa, an Olympic skiing bronze medalist in 1992, went missing in the mountains near Madrid, triggering a search by hundreds of officials and volunteers who combed the pine-forested area for days, her body was found Wednesday.

Authorities are investigating the cause of her death.

Fernández, 56, was reported missing Aug. 24. The disappearance of Spain’s first female medalist in the Winter Olympics set off a search by more than 200 police officers on foot and on horses, forest rangers and hundreds of volunteers. The Policia Nacional on Wednesday tweeted condolences to family and friends and sent “a million thanks” to the volunteers who helped with the search.

AD

Fernández reportedly often liked to take long hikes in the mountains, and so no one gave it much of a thought when she told her daughter, Olivia Fresneda, that she was going out Aug. 23. She was last spotted on surveillance video at a shopping mall Aug. 24.

AD

She had not taken her cellphone, however, and family members grew concerned when they lost contact with her. Their worry grew when her Mercedes was found Sept. 1 parked at a popular hiking spot in Cercedilla in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains, about an hour northwest of Madrid. In it were her driver’s license and 15 euros. “I think she must have gone to the family´s favorite area,” her sister, Dolores, said this week. “I am sure she decided to go there and something has happened to her. I can’t think of any other explanation. We are extremely sad but we wanted to thank you all for the big effort you are doing in finding Blanca."

In the days since her disappearance, her family, with son, David, reportedly joining the search, had congregated in the mountains, hoping that Fernández would be found safe.

AD

Fernández, who won a bronze medal in Alpine skiing at the Games in Albertville, France, was one of five siblings who competed at the Olympics for the Spanish ski team. Her late brother, Francisco Fernández Ochoa, was the first Spaniard to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics, winning the slalom in 1972 in Sapporo.

AD

In a 2014 interview with El Pais, Fernández said she had become more interested in golf than skiing since retiring.

“I ended up burned [out] with skiing,” she said. “What I really like is golf.”

Both of her children were more interested in rugby, with her daughter a standout on the national team.

News about Fernández’s death brought reactions from NBA star Pau Gasol, the Real Madrid organization, Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz and others who praised her as a legend of Spanish sports.

Read more from The Post:

AD
AD