Olympic Games in Sochi: Famous Zermatt athletes at the starting line


Several natives of Zermatt will be competing at the Winter Games in Sochi. This will be Fränzi Aufdenblatten’s third time on the Olympic team while Yannic Lerjen will compete in the Freestyle Halfpipe discipline for the first time. The most famous “Zermatt native”, Vanessa Mae, will represent Thailand in the downhill slalom. Behind the scenes, experienced Zermatt mountain rescuer Bruno Jelk will be in charge of safety on the Sochi slopes.

The opening ceremony will kick off the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on 7 February 2014. The first competitions will take place on 8 February and the closing ceremony will be held on 23 February.

Birthday present for Fränzi Aufdenblatten?

This is the third time the sociable Zermatt downhill racer is competing at the Olympics. Zermatt’s residents and guests hope that the biggest present on her 33rd birthday on 10 February will be an Olympic medal. Supporters in Zermatt and Switzerland are keeping their fingers crossed.

Yannic Lerjen competes for the first time

23 year-old Yannic Lerjen, born in Zermatt, is bound to stir up the freestyle scene. According to insiders, he stands a real chance of winning a medal. Yannic will be competing in the Halfpipe discipline. Again, we’re keeping our fingers crossed!

Vanessa Mae, superstar

British violin superstar Vanessa Mae (35) has been the focus of great attention. In Slovenia, she qualified for the Olympic Games as Vanessa Vanakorn, using her Thai father’s surname. Vanessa will be representing Thailand at the Winter Games. The renowned violinist, who has recorded numerous CDs, used to be referred to as “Teenie Paganini”, having performed the most difficult scores at a very young age.

Vanessa Mae has lived in Zermatt for three years. She emphasises that the village at the foot of the Matterhorn has had a big influence on her. 2014 is going to be her one and only venture into the world of the Olympic Games. Thereafter, Vanessa Mae will once again concentrate on her music career.

Bruno Jelk: Hoping for little action

Bruno Jelk has a very different outlook on the Games. The highly experienced mountain rescuer from Zermatt is responsible for avalanche protection on the Sochi slopes. He hopes that his skills will not be required on the competition days. For many years, Bruno Jelk has been among the most capable and best-known mountain rescue and avalanche protection experts worldwide, which is why this responsible task was conferred upon him. Let’s hope that he will have to use his experience for preventative measures only.

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