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Switzerland misses medal target but has golden Olympics

Silver medalist Wendy Holdener (left) and gold medalist Michelle Gisin celebrate after the women's Alpine Skiing Combined race. © Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Switzerland heads home from the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing with a record gold medal haul in alpine skiing. It ranked eighth on the medal table, just behind skiing rival Austria.

This content was published on February 20, 2022 - 13:53
Keystone-SDA/NZZ/jdp

Switzerland didn’t reach its target of 15 medals at the Games but still returned home with a hefty haul of 7 gold medals, 2 silver and 5 bronze. Norway topped the medal table for the second time in a row, bringing in 16 gold medals, 37 in total.

At the last Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Switzerland won 15 medals but only 5 gold. Four years earlier in Sochi, Switzerland also had 7 gold medals but returned with a total 11 medals, putting it in tenth on the medal table, just ahead of China.

Its highest ranking on the medal table was in Calgary in 1988 when it came in third with 15 medals, just behind the Soviet Union and East Germany. The number of events has more than doubled since Calgary in 1988. There were 46 competitions in 1988 compared with 109 in Beijing.

Ski at its peak

The big winners, and in fact all Olympic medals, were in ski and snowboard events. This included golds by Beat Feuz and Corinne Suter in downhill, Lara Gut-Behrami in the Super-G, Marco Odermatt in giant slalom, Michelle Gisin in alpine combined, Mathilde Gremaud in free ski slopestyle and Ryan Regez in ski cross.

Fanny Smith received bronze in the ski cross event but was disqualified for putting her left ski on a fellow skier coming around a turn. The Swiss Ski Federation has lodged an appeal and is awaiting a response.

Near misses

Swiss athletes just missed the medal stand on several occasions. In 8 competitions, Swiss teams came in fourth place in these Olympics. This included the Swiss women’s curling team who lost in the bronze medal match against Sweden and Andri Ragettli who came in fourth in the free ski slopestyle event.

Ski jumper and four-time Olympic champion Simon Ammann, 40, came back empty handed from his seventh Olympic Games.

Swiss biathlete Irene Cadurisch caused a scare at these games. The first athlete of the women's relay team, Cadurisch collapsed after the second shooting and had to be taken away by rescue sled and examined by a medical team. She’s back home recovering.

Next generation

Switzerland dominated alpine ski, winning gold in 5 out of the 11 events. This is the best gold medal haul in alpine ski ever for Switzerland or any other country in a single Olympic Games.

In an interview in the German-language paper NZZamSonntag, Swiss Ski Federation president Urs Lehmann, saidExternal link it was a great moment for Swiss sport. However, he said that there was still work to do, especially in other disciplines like Nordic skiing and in building up the next generation in alpine ski.

He said that the incredibly high level of the top four women athletes covers up the fact that the second guard is a step too far behind. “We still have about four years in which to bring in the next generation so that it can replace these four top athletes,” he told the NZZ.

Walter Reusser, director of Swiss Ski Alpin, told Swiss media agency Keystone-SDA last week that the association had made mistakes in the past by not having patience and being guided by birth year rather than performance.

“We don't have twenty racers, but we have a lot of good young people,” he said “When I took over at Ski Alpin, I said that we wanted to encourage the youngsters in a different way. We have already invested a lot and changed strategic things. But it takes ten years for these athletes to be ready.”

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