Posts Tagged ‘Switzerland’

Didier Day in Whistler

Didier Defago

Didier Defago pulled off a massive upset to win the men's downhill on Monday. (Simon Bruty/SI)

Swiss signs

Swiss signs at Monday's downhill. (Luke Winn/SI)

WHISTLER, British Columbia — Swiss fans came to these Olympics in droves to see their men’s alpine ski team, which featured two of biggest names in the sport, Didier Cuche and Carlo Janka. At Monday’s downhill race at Whistler Mountain, the fans had banners for Cuche, the pre-race favorite who’d finish sixth (his sign looked like a logo for a lame corporate consulting firm), and Janka, who’d finish 11th. They even had a flag for the lesser-known Swiss skier Ambrosi Hoffman, who went on to finish 23rd.

But they came with nothing personalized for Didier Defago, their countryman who’d pull off an upset to win their first gold medal in downhill since 1988. You really couldn’t blame those fans, though: Defago arrived at the Games not even guaranteed to be in the downhill; the Swiss coaches decided to award him their fourth (and final) spot in the race only after observing his strong set of training runs. (As Dirke Biesel, the Swiss ski team’s head of competition at this Olympics, said to me in a massive understatement, “It was the right decision.”)

Swiss fans had no problems going wild after Defago’s victory. While killing time at Players Chophouse on Monday before the evening coaches’ meeting for the Super Combined, a few writers and I stumbled upon a rowdy Swiss crew in the upper-level bar, most of them decked out in red-and-white wigs and face paint. They’d already had a three-hour head-start at the bar, and had just finished celebrating with Defago himself, who’d showed up following his press conference and enjoyed the full Swiss hero treatment. Fabian Muff, one of the Swiss fans from Willisau, gave me a photo they took with the downhill champ:

Didier Defago

Swiss downhiller Didier Defago (the guy not wearing a wig) celebrates his gold medal.

For the entire time we were at the Chophouse, the Swiss crew alternated between singing, blowing horns, and running dance trains around the bar — a welcome change from the tense quiet in the press tent higher up the Mountain. They were kind enough to let me chronicle two minutes of revelry with the FlipCam:

A Swiss Celebration

A Swiss Celebration

This movie requires Adobe Flash for playback.


  • Published On Feb. 16, 2010 by lukewinn


  •