Glacier good, Olympics good
National ski teams have spent the whole summer training and indeed are still training on the Theodul Glacier, Zermatt’s summer ski region above Trockener Steg. This year, Alpine skiers from the world’s top ski nations have spent an unusually long time in Zermatt as weather conditions in Argentina were less than optimal.
At the moment, the national freestyle teams from Denmark and the Netherlands are training on the glacier. This year, skicross will be added to the jumps, mogul pistes and ballet in this Olympic fringe sport: four skiers start at the same time on a course built with snow jumps, waves and curves. Results are on a KO system.
The Canadian national freestyle team has been visiting Zermatt for over ten years and it was here that sights were finally focused on the Vancouver Olympics taking place from 12 to 28 February 2010. As members of one of the leading ski nations plus having a home advantage, the Canadians understandably rate their chances as excellent.
Destination Zermatt - Matterhorn, which because of its outstanding conditions in the summer-ski region, has always acted as a training location for world-class athletes, is itself sending an important ambassador to the Pacific: athlete of the century Pirmin Zurbriggen will be the first Swiss to take part in the torch relay at the Winter Olympic Games. And the whole of Zermatt will be crossing its fingers and hoping that Zermatt Alpine skier Fränzi Aufdenblatten has a successful season so that she can also compete in Vancouver. It’s not the first time for Zermatt athletes to stand on Olympic soil: Pirmin Zurbriggen, from Saas-Almagell, lives in Zermatt with his family. In addition to his 40 World Cup and other victories, he won Olympic gold in Calgary in 1988. Max Julen won gold in the giant slalom in Sarajevo in 1984.
Diego Perren played world-class curling with the Lausanne Olympique team from the 1990s to 2004. In 1998, the team won the first curling gold medal in Olympic history, against Canada at the Nagano Olympics. In 1992, freestyler Jürg Biner competed in the Olympics at Lillehammer and took 10th place on the mogul piste. And in Chamonix in 1924, the military patrol team of Anton Julen, Alfons Julen, Alfred Aufdenblatten and Denis Vaucher from Bern won the first gold medal in the military patrol discipline. We wish all athletes an excellent season and successful participation at the Olympic Games – particularly those who have trained in Zermatt.